Thames Reach and Lambeth Council open new homeless hostel in Vauxhall

Martha Jones House is Thames Reach’s newest hostel for rough sleepers based in Vauxhall. The building was officially launched on Friday, December 14 by Cllr Paul Gadsby, Lambeth Council Cabinet Member for Housing and Bill Tidnam, Chief Executive at Thames Reach.

Over 30 people attended the official opening event including Thames Reach’s funders, Lambeth Council and building owners, Places for People.

Martha Jones House marks a significant change in approach to hostel accommodation by Thames Reach, by moving to a smaller project and offering more targeted one to one support. The project offers updated facilities and services – implemented to move away from an institutional approach, to one that encourages change. The building is better equipped with amenities to support residents to become more engaged, self-reliant and independent.

The project is designed to work with people who have developed deeply entrenched complex needs as a result of sleeping rough, and during their stay, residents are supported to engage in activities that will help them overcome barriers and prepare them for the next level of accommodation.

The new hostel replaces Graham House – Thames Reach’s former largest hostel which accommodated 69 residents but closed in November 2018 due to ongoing developments at Vauxhall Square. Being smaller, the new hostel accommodates only 50 residents. Some residents successfully moved into independent living and supported accommodation as part of the move, and the remaining residents made the short move around the corner to the new building.

Monica Geraghty, Lead Manager at Martha Jones House, said:

“The transition from Graham House to Martha Jones House went really well, and residents have now moved in.

“The ultimate aim for our residents is for them to move away from homelessness and move on to lead a fulfilling life, and the new hostel encourages self-sufficiency and development in a nice comfortable setting.”

New facilities and services include; an IT suite, a comfortable communal space for group activities and access to all of Thames Reach’s employment training programmes, where residents can receive basic skills training and qualifications, information advice and guidance and search for volunteer opportunities.

The building offers three different types of accommodation; self- contained flats, larger bed spaces and smaller rooms, ensuring that it can cater for a much wider range of needs and abilities.

There is space to accommodate cooking classes, activities and education around food and budgeting, enabling residents to learn new skills, lead a healthy lifestyle, build relationships and prepare for independent living.

Health and medical services are available at Martha Jones House, and residents are also encouraged to access local health services in the community to improve social engagement.

The hostel’s new look is a stark contrast to Graham House, with clear white walls, plenty of space and ceiling to floor windows throughout, reflecting a calm environment and atmosphere.

Through making such changes, Thames Reach aims to support residents to build self-confidence and feel empowered to make their own decisions.

Cllr Paul Gadsby, Lambeth Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Martha Jones House is a marvellous development that will make a tremendous contribution to the support we can offer rough sleepers.

“But they’ll offer much more than a roof above their heads: the people staying there will get all the support needed to help them to move into independent living and stay off the street in the long term.”

Speaking at the event, Bill Tidnam, Chief Executive at Thames Reach said: “We are delighted with the new building which has been designed and built to such a high standard.

“It’s important that residents can live in a safe and dignified place that is less institutionalised, and we’re proud of the changes we are making to support our residents to achieve positive outcomes.

“We’re grateful to our funders, Lambeth Council, and owners of the building, Places for People, for playing a key role in developing our new facilities, but also to Monica Geraghty and the excellent staff team at the hostel for making the move to the new hostel such a success”

Visit www.thamesreach.org.uk to learn more about Thames Reach’s services.

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