CRASH helps London homelessness charity with life-changing building project

The Upper Room has been helping homeless and vulnerable people since 1990. Since opening as a soup kitchen 25 years ago, the charity’s services have developed dramatically. It now runs three main projects which give people who are socially disadvantaged the tools and skills they need to restore their dignity, reduce their risk of homelessness and help them to become employed.  

The charity provides free evening meals and essential survival services five days a week to 60-80 homeless and vulnerable adults. They run a multilingual employment support service, which aims to break the circle of unemployment and homelessness by helping people become job ready. They also run a driving programme which teaches ex-offenders to drive in return for voluntary work in order to improve their employment chances and reduce their risk of re-offending.

The charity needed to transform their building in order to better provide their services and to enable people who visit to take advantage of the range of opportunities on offer.

After CRASH visited The Upper Room, it was clear that the building was not fit for purpose. The space was one large single-storey communal area which had to act as a dining room, training room, office space, area for receiving, sorting and distributing donations and a computer room. There was also no confidential meeting space, which is so important when working with vulnerable people. The only storage was on a fabricated mezzanine level which was unsafe.

CRASH Patron companies AECOM, A-Plant, Arcadis, Areen Design, British Gypsum and Imtech joined forces alongside CRASH’s supporters to deliver an entire additional mezzanine floor, the length and breadth of the existing space, which provides:

  • A training room
  • 2 x 1-2-1 rooms for confidential meetings
  • Safe storage space
  • 2 x meeting rooms
  • A safe, accessible stairwell which will enable people to move between spaces
  • The changes doubled the floor space, from 96m2 to 192m2

It was a challenging project as it was in the confines of a Victorian church and needed to be respectful to the existing architecture.

© Photos by Construction Photographer Mike O’Dwyer

The value of gift in kind support from CRASH Patrons and supporters, who donated their professional expertise and materials, came to an impressive £136,627. CRASH added a £35,000 cash grant to support the project bringing the total value of support to £171,627.  

Nicky Flynn, Chief Executive at the Upper Room said:

‘‘We are delighted with the space the new floor has given us. We are now better able to support our beneficiaries by providing them with space to learn. We are also really excited about the hub for the homeless where we are aiming to increase the opportunities we can offer such as health and wellbeing as well as benefits and other services.’’

Becky Holt, Marketing and Communications Manager at CRASH said:

 ‘‘A big thank you to CRASH Patrons and supporters for completely transforming the Upper Room. This is a great example of what can be achieved when the industry comes together through CRASH. You have made a huge difference to hundreds of homeless people who visit the Upper Room each week.’’