Redeveloped housing centre showcases new “psychologically-designed” facilities helping homeless people transform their lives
Published by Susan Littlemore for Riverside in Housing and also in Care and Support, Education, Health
Paul Teasdale, Regional Operations Manager at Riverside ECHG, Bristol Mayor George Ferguson, Jay Lambe, Senior Area Manager from the Homes & Communities Agency and Mark Taylor from Bristol City Council at the Jamaica Street Project redevelopment launch la
Bristol housing centre, the Jamaica Street Project is helping homeless people transform their lives by using a psychological approach in its services and in the way it has redeveloped its buildings, encouraging residents to feel more positive and gain confidence to move on into independent living.
The centre is run by specialist housing provider Riverside-ECHG and has just undergone a major £1.6million redevelopment, which was officially launched by Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson last week. It is home for up to fifty-six homeless men and women who have a range of needs including mental health and addiction issues.
The use of psychology when planning homeless services is becoming increasingly prevalent and is particularly important as the average stay for each person will be four months at the Jamaica Street Project.
“We know that shops and other businesses cleverly design their surroundings, products and even the motivational language they use in order to persuade and assist their customers.” said Riverside’s Regional Manager, Paul Teasdale.
“Homeless agencies like ours are now seeing the benefits of using the same techniques with our clients which help them focus on making changes in their lives and tackling the issues that led to them become homeless.”
The redevelopment has seen the inclusion of a range of new training facilities such as an IT suite for skills and job search purposes and a client meeting room used for group training sessions. The new communal kitchens will be used for sessions around healthy eating and budgeting on a low income, which are vital for people when they move on into independent living.
Alongside the physical improvements at their centre, Riverside has also provided training for its staff and employed specialists in mental health and addiction. Training has focused on how staff can help motivate clients to identify and achieve goals, be it coming off drugs, getting into education or finding employment.
The redevelopment is part of an investment of over £600,000 from the Government’s Homes & Communities Agency, as well as a further £1million from Riverside.
The renovation covers the top floor of the Riverside centre, which now consists of 15 self-contained units each comprising of a bedroom, en suite and kitchenette. The second floor also features 20 new en suite bedrooms with communal kitchens and lounge areas. A previous refurbishment had already upgraded the reception and first floor areas.
Among its residents, the centre can also accommodate individuals in two of its two-person clusters, which will be particularly important in accommodating women fleeing domestic violence or other very vulnerable people.
Importantly, national Government research has revealed that every £1 spent on providing homeless people with training and support saves at least £2 by reducing the damaging impacts of homelessness on communities.