Chichester homeless charity extends hostel to help people 'transform their lives'
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The new service, named Hicks House, is situated next to the charity's existing building on Hunston Road, Chichester
It comes a year after Stonepillow partnered with Chichester District Council to extend The Lodge - which was originally built in 2015 — by doubling the number of self-contained studio flats.
'With a short deadline' for the application and designs to be submitted to the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), the Stonepillow board of trustees 'took the brave step' and committed to delivering the project within seven months.
A spokesperson said: "Once confirmation of the successful application was announced in September 2020, this meant all systems go."
As a condition of the funding, the project initially needed to be completed by the March 31. However, due to the pandemic, this was extended to June meaning the works were completed on time.
The initial opening last Wednesday was attended by a small group of funders, commissioners, Stonepillow trustees and team members working on the project.
There will be an official naming ceremony in September to celebrate the future success of ‘Hicks House’, named in memory of Andy Hicks.
Andy was an ex-client who successfully moved on through the Stonepillow services to enjoy living independently and worked for the charity as a support worker, inspiring and guiding many people to follow in his footsteps.
Stonepillow said he was a 'highly-valued and much-loved' member of the team, and his 'legacy will now live on'.
Alan Sutton, cabinet member for housing, communications, licensing and events, said the district council was 'really proud' to work in partnership with Stonepillow 'to help transform lives'.
He added: "In 2019, we had 32 rough sleepers in Chichester, and this has now reduced to three. This is thanks to the dedication of the staff, volunteers and officers who are working together to make a difference to the lives of those who are most vulnerable.
“This is why Hicks House is so important. It provides the next step to helping people move onto accessing their own accommodation.
"Providing high quality accommodation to give a safe and supported space is vital to giving people the confidence to rebuild their lives."
Stonepillow said there was an 'ongoing need' to provide clients, who were deemed ‘extremely vulnerable’, a safer accommodation option.
"The government Everyone In scheme presented a great opportunity to encourage people with multiple needs off the streets, enabling us to really understand what the barriers were for them to successfully engage on a pathway to independence," the Stonepillow spokesperson added.
"In Summer 2020, the MHCLG announced the Next Steps Accommodation Programme to support more permanent accommodation for those who had been in the Everyone In Scheme.
"This programme provided match funding from MHCLG and Homes England to support the capital development, to build or purchase new self-contained units, with revenue funding to support the Housing Led Worker within the project."
The Housing Led Worker will be an advocate for the clients providing a 'wraparound support package' to suit their needs, giving them 'choice and control'.
The spokesperson continued: "Working closely with partners and external agencies, they will source and prepare tenancy and facilitate the moving in plans.
"Statistics have proved that previous clients who had lived in The Lodge had experienced a significantly improved outcome, stabilising their future journey into a new home."