Hostel Refurbishment Challenges Prejudices

A £2.2m refurbishment of a hostel for the homeless men is challenging traditional prejudices about the way this vulnerable section of society lives by providing first class accommodation and facilities.

Tyneside Cyrenians’ Elliott House on Bentinck Terrace in the Elswick area of Newcastle, has been a hostel for homeless men since 1990 when the Tyneside-based charity took over the imposing Victorian terrace which had originally been designed by John Dobson in 1845.

Following the acquisition of additional funding, the charity commissioned award-winning Newcastle architects, Jane Darbyshire & David Kendall (JDDK) Ltd, for plans to completely refurbish the Grade II listed building, as Cyrenians’ Chief Executive, Stephen Bell, explained, “We’ve worked very successfully with JDDK for many years and wanted their in-depth understanding of what we are about to add value to what was needed structurally in any case to maintain the building.”

“We felt that just because our service users were homeless, there was no reason why they shouldn’t have access to modern standards of accommodation so that the work has included the provision of en-suite facilities into the 36 individual bedrooms and modern facilities, such as a gym, cafeteria and film making studio for the residents, in addition to upgrading the main administration offices.”

Kevin Turnbull, Director of JDDK, added, “We worked very closely with the City planners who were very helpful – the building has been completely rewired and a new CHP heating system installed together with heritage skylights and ‘sun pipes’ to the top floors. The most striking feature of the refurbishment, however, is the new build single storey extension to the rear of the property on Tweed Street housing a new entrance and reception area for service users, staff and visitors. Designed to have a minimal impact on the listed structure, the reception is very contemporary, topped with a sedum covered roof and epitomises the move away from the institutional environment associated with traditional hostel accommodation.”

The charity also used their own construction company, TCUK Property Services, which offers construction training to homeless men in addition to carrying out actual construction projects. For the 6 month contract, 8 homeless men were trained and employed and are now seeking further construction work as part of their rehabilitation.

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