Julian House drive to improve support at Bath shelter
Homelessness charity Julian House has announced plans for a £420,000 upgrade of its Manvers Street night shelter.
Work will begin at the end of this month on the project which will see dormitory accommodation converted into individual sleeping quarters, with other improvements including a new kitchen and upgraded medical facilities.
The refurbishment will also aim to introduce more natural light into the semi-basement premises as well as more beds for women.
The night shelter has 21 beds, but only three are for women because of the dormitory layout.
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The charity's chief executive, Peter Denning said: "It has long been recognised that dormitories are not the best way to support homeless men and women in the challenging journey from the streets back into mainstream society.
"We know for sure that some of the most vulnerable clients won't come into Julian House for that reason.
"Another problem with the existing building is that we can only accommodate three women when we know that there are many more who need our support."
He added: "A lot of consultation has gone into the planning for the new facilities.
"This will mean fewer rough sleepers risking their lives on the streets, improved quality of support and speeding up the process of getting our clients into sustainable accommodation."
During the four months of the refurbishment project, an emergency night shelter will be created in the basement of Manvers Street Baptist Church next door.
Athough contracts have been signed and Julian House has committed itself to the project, the charity still has to find a significant part of the money needed.
Fundraising manager Cecil Weir is hoping that trusts, businesses and the public will rally round to support the venture and raise the £170,000 shortfall.
Mr Weir said: "Julian House has committed £250,000 from its own reserves and buildings' maintenance fund to get the project off the ground – a massive commitment for an organisation of our size which is over and above our day-to-day running costs.
"Over the coming months we'll be asking for donations towards the £170,000 shortfall – £40 would buy a mattress for one of the sleeping quarters – whilst £4,000 would build a complete unit.
"This project isn't just about giving clients a proper night's rest.
"It will save lives and provide a better chance for some of the most marginalised members of society."
At a recent open house event, detailed plans for the building work were shown off to representatives from other agencies working for the homeless, as well as B&NES councillors and MP Don Foster.
Chairman of the council Rob Appleyard said: "In this day and age no one should be forced to sleep in a dormitory."
Anyone wishing to see plans for the new facilities should visit the website www.julianhouse.org.uk or see the window display at 55 New King Street.
Donations towards the upgrade appeal should be sent to Mr Weir at the above address or by calling him on 01225 354652.