A north London hostel has reopened after a ¬¨¬£5m facelift, with beds for 60 people and a more energy-efficient utilities system.
St Mungo's Mare Street
has fewer than half the number of beds it had during its days as a "dormitory-style" hostel with communal bathrooms. Instead, Mare Street now has 45 en-suite rooms, arranged into groups of six with a shared kitchen between them, and 15 self-contained flats.
Communal areas include a main kitchen, an internet area, training rooms, an art room, a meeting room and a library. Some of the facilities are already being used by other Hackney organisations.
The beds were made by some of St Mungo's residents in the charity's wood workshop.
In addition, a sound recording studio is expected to be up and running soon, with St Mungo's staff planning to work with local Hackney musicians to develop residents' music skills.
The building, a former police section house, had been refurbished with funds from the Department of Communities and Local Government as part of its Hostels Capital Improvement Programme (HCIP), the second phase of which - The Places of Change Programme - has since transferred to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
Sir Bob Kerslake, chief executive of the Homes and Communities Agency, formally re-opened the Mare Street hostel on 8th May. He said: "The solution to street homelessness is not just about building more hostels. Our programme seeks to provide not just better facilities for homeless service users, but to encourage a major change in the way services are delivered."
Mare Street residents also have access to the Greenhouse Health Centre - a St Mungo's, Thames Reach and Hackney Primary Care Trust partnership, for access to doctors and specialist health workers.
A complex needs worker, who assists with any issues around mental health or substance use, and a resettlement worker to assist residents moving on into permanent accommodation, are also available to residents.