Crisis, the national charity for homeless people, has opened a new centre in Croydon.
Delivered by Keepmoat, Crisis Skylight Croydon is the 11th centre of its kind throughout the UK.
Housing minister and Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell joined Alison Butler, deputy leader of Croydon Council, and John Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, at a launch event.
Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes said: “I am delighted that Crisis Skylight Croydon has found a permanent home. It will allow our team to build on the excellent work we’ve been doing here since 2015.
“Croydon has faced significant rises in homelessness in recent years. We are confident that the facilities and the team here at Crisis
Skylight Croydon will help remove the barriers many rough sleepers face, building confidence and moving people forward and out of homelessness for good.”
Keepmoat transformed the basement, ground floor and mezzanine of Unit 3 Bridge House, installing new gas mains, fire rated glazed walls, glass partitions and moveable walls.
Additional features include new showers and wet rooms, as well as heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems across all three floors.
The centre’s security has also been significantly improved with new CCTV and fire alarm systems, coupled with new lift shafts and fire exits.
It will help people through every stage of their journey out of homelessness, from early engagement on the street to progression into education, employment and independent living.
Simon Lacey, regional managing director for Keepmoat, said: “This project has created new, meaningful, practical spaces for homeless people and a welcoming atmosphere to those who might not feel accepted anywhere else, it has been a thoroughly rewarding process for all parties involved.
“The refurbishment went far beyond the centre improvements. There was a close working relationship with the community and local employment opportunities were created with the end result being a brand new centre for this amazing charity to further its work to empower people out of homelessness.
“The Skylight Centre now stands as a hub of hope within the community, dedicated to helping people start their journey out of homelessness and to dramatically improve their quality of life.”
Crisis began working in the area in autumn 2015, delivering classes and advice sessions in drop-in centres for people living on the streets, hostels and supported housing projects. The move to a permanent home will make it easier for homeless people to get the help they need from Crisis. The centre is equipped with facilities ranging from an IT suite, training kitchen and art room, to showers and a laundry.
Mr Barwell said: “I have had the privilege to meet with Crisis on a number of occasions since being appointed as Minister for Housing and have been consistently impressed by the work they do and indeed the result they are producing.
“It is a particular honour to be able to open the new facility for Crisis Skylight Croydon and again see at first-hand how they are helping some of the most vulnerable in our society to progress from homelessness to independent living. I wish the venture every success.”
Last year more than 1,000 households were formally accepted by the Croydon Council as homeless in Croydon and rough sleeping levels across the borough have increased by 24 per cent since 2012/13.