THE LONG-awaited Fred Winter Centre is set to open its doors next week.
Stratford’s new housing plus hub – at the former department store on Guild Street – has been converted to provide a food bank, office space, support services and ‘immediate’ accommodation and ‘move on’ apartments to help people transition into permanent housing.
A community cafe ‘Cork and Tile’ will also operate on the site, open to residents, staff and the general public.
The £1.5million centre and its services will be available to tenants, people visiting or referred to the centre, and those in the community at risk of homelessness or facing hardship.
A number of charities and organisations including housing support charity P3, mental health charity Springfield Mind, Job Centre Plus, Stratford Foodbank and Citizen’s Advice Bureau will be operating from the hub.
The accommodation will be available from April. Its first tenants are in temporary accommodation
The project, masterminded by Springs Housing Association, is based on Finland’s ‘housing first’ model which aims to give vulnerable people housing before addressing issues including job loss and substance abuse – traditionally problems which could prevent them securing accommodation.
The project, due to open last summer, faced delays after changes to fire safety regulations came into force.
Last minute works mean the hub’s first tenants, who are currently in temporary accommodation, will move in in April.
Centre chair Paul Spooner said: “We are delighted with the design and build quality of the centre- the contractor Calztec has done a great job.
“The Fred Winter Centre has been achieved through the financial support, hard work and commitment of all of its partners. This includes the local authorities, charities and housing associations and local businesses who have got behind the project. Spring Housing has led and managed the project and will run the centre using their many years of experience in working with homeless people in Birmingham.
“Our overall aim is to create a safe modern and welcoming environment with support and advice tailored to individual needs, and with opportunities for skills training and work experience in the main employment sectors in the local area. And a place which the town can be proud of.”
All pictures by Marcus Mingins. Copyright Bullivant Media.