Work has begun to convert a vacant city centre building into additional accommodation with multi-agency support for vulnerable people and people with a history of rough sleeping.
City of Wolverhampton Council-owned Bond House in Bond Street is being transformed into 34 units of accommodation, including six accessible apartments, to become the location for the Single Persons Accommodation Project.
The building will include emergency accommodation and settled accommodation units, and will provide bespoke, multi-agency support for the vulnerable people living in the accommodation units. This approach will allow people to live safe and independent lives with the backing of arms-length support as and when required.
The idea was sparked by lessons learnt from the success of supporting Wolverhampton’s homeless people through the ‘Everyone In’ initiative during the coronavirus outbreak. That initiative saw partners in the multi-agency Homelessness Taskforce pool their resources at one location - a city centre hotel - to safeguard individuals from the streets.
The facility helped more than 100 people either facing the threat of homelessness or who were rough sleeping to successfully move on from the city’s emergency shelter into long-term safe, suitable, and sustainable accommodation. Following that experience,
Wolverhampton Homes made a planning application on behalf of the council to create the new Single Persons Accommodation Project and planning permission was granted in November. The transformed building will also include security and concierge presence on site 24-hours a day, seven days a week, something that was integral to the success of the emergency provision during ‘Everyone In’ and will ensure that the site is secure and residents are safe at all times.
It will also provide for other vulnerable groups, for example women experiencing homelessness or people who are made homeless but wish to find secure employment. The rent and charges will be affordable and will allow people to be in employment, which is not always possible in traditional supported accommodation.
Funding has come from a mixture of council spending and Government grants, with the project developed following consultation and best-practice learning from residents, volunteers, staff and partners.
Councillor Bhupinder Gakhal, Cabinet Member for City Assets and Housing, said:
“It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that the transformation of this building will help us to transform the lives of those vulnerable people in our city.
“Here in Wolverhampton we are making real changes to help rough sleepers rebuild their lives. And whether that is through bricks and mortar or emotional and practical support, we want to offer the best we can.
“Working with our partners, we have a clear message that no-one needs to sleep out on our city streets. We are determined to tackle homelessness and this new accommodation will further strengthen our homeless support.”
Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, added:
“The successes achieved during the city’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative have shown just what can be done for our vulnerable residents when partners come together.
“We learned so much as a city from that. Some people who were rough sleepers for a long time engaged with services for the first time, or after a long break, and we are committed to continuing that work.
“The transformation of Bond House will provide tailored and bespoke support for the people accommodated there and will act as a base for partners to link in together, share information and strengthen partnership working. This is a pioneering approach designed to make life a lot better for our residents.”
Operational group partners include: Wolverhampton Homes, St George’s Hub, P3, Enterprise Homes Group Good Shepherd, Recovery Near You, RMC, Wolverhampton BID, Solace, Changing Lives, Police, A&E Security, Wolverhampton CCG, Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, food services (Good Shepherd, Outreach 4 Wolverhampton, Sant Ashram, Midland Langar, Helping Hands, Sedgley Street Sikh Gurdwara), Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, and Probation services.
The latest Government count completed on 18 November 2021, showed Wolverhampton had five people sleeping rough – down one on the previous year. For details on how to contact support services to help those experiencing rough sleeping, visit Rough sleepers | City Of Wolverhampton Council.
People can also help the homeless and rough sleepers by donating money to the city’s Alternative Giving Charity via Home - Alternative Giving CIO (wolverhamptonchange.co.uk)
Image caption (L-R): Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing and Councillor Bhupinder Gakhal, Cabinet Member for City Assets and Housing, at Bond House, with an artist’s impression of how the completed building will look (image courtesy if City of Wolverhampton Council)