New accommodation unveiled to help support former rough sleepers

L-R: Andrew Jarvis, Cllr Linda Coulam, Elliot Dawes, Bridget Law, Wendy Evans-Hendrick and Fern Lincoln.

Left to right: Andrew Jarvis (ESC), Cllr Linda Coulam (ESC), Elliot Dawes (ESC), Bridget Law (ESC), Wendy Evans-Hendrick (Orwell) and Fern Lincoln (ESC). - Credit: Mick Howes

A vacant home in Lowestoft has been transformed into specialist accommodation for former rough sleepers.

East Suffolk Council has turned a large former home on St Peter’s Street in Lowestoft into a seven-bed house of multiple occupancy (HMO).

After a successful bid last year to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, East Suffolk Council received £93,312 to provide accommodation and support to rough sleepers during the pandemic.

An additional £389,482 was then secured earlier this year to provide support to rough sleepers in East Suffolk through the delivery of longer-term ‘move on’ accommodation.

Cllr Linda Coulam, Bridget Law, Elliot Dawes, Wendy Evans-Hendrick, Fern Lincoln and Andrew Jarvis.

Cllr Linda Coulam (ESC), Bridget Law (ESC), Elliot Dawes (ESC), Wendy Evans-Hendrick (Orwell), Fern Lincoln (ESC) and Andrew Jarvis (ESC). - Credit: Mick Howes

This led to the property on St Peter’s Street being bought and over the past few months the council's housing maintenance team has transformed the building into a seven-bed unit of specialist, supported accommodation specifically for former rough sleepers and single homeless people.

The accommodation will be managed by Orwell Housing, who will also provide care and support for residents.

With the tenants able to stay for up to two years, three people are moving in this week.

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Richard Kerry, East Suffolk’s cabinet member for housing, said: “East Suffolk Council is committed to ending homelessness and rough sleeping and this new ‘move on’ accommodation will assist some of the most vulnerable members of our community, enabling them to stay safe, access support and develop the skills needed to live independently."

Bridget Law (East Suffolk) and Wendy Evans-Hendrick (Chief Executive – Orwell Housing) inside one of rooms.

Bridget Law (East Suffolk) and Wendy Evans-Hendrick (Chief Executive – Orwell Housing) inside one of rooms. - Credit: Mick Howes

Orwell’s chief executive, Wendy Evans-Hendrick, said: “The accommodation will not only provide a secure home, but also support for people to get back on their feet and make positive steps towards independent living."

After a substantial refurbishment - including a new central heating system, rewiring of the electrics, installation of a fire protection and secure entry system, internal insulation upgrades, creation and installation of seven en-suite shower rooms, a new kitchen, plastering, flooring and redecoration throughout - an official opening event was held on Monday, June 28.

Fern Lincoln (ESC) inside the kitchen. 

Fern Lincoln (ESC) inside the kitchen. - Credit: Mick Howes

At the official opening, attended by representatives from East Suffolk Council and Orwell Housing, the council's Strategic Director, Andrew Jarvis said: "Today is a really proud day.

"Its been an absolutely amazing transformation.

Andrew Jarvis (ESC) inside the laundry room. 

Andrew Jarvis (ESC) inside the laundry room. - Credit: Mick Howes

"The team has worked closely with the partners and delivered a real quality job."

East Suffolk councillor Linda Coulam added: "It is very nice to be invited as I have watched it progress.

"This is a wonderful place to live."

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