More Bed Spaces for Bedfordshire’s Homeless

Emmaus Village Carlton is a homelessness charity based in North Bedfordshire offering active support to formerly homeless people they call Companions. They provide a real workable alternative to homelessness, offering people a home, as well as meaningful work in their onsite social enterprises.

CRASH has been working with Emmaus Village Carlton for many years on various schemes such as The Dovecote Project, the refurbishment of the Bistro which is a cherished resource for the wider Bedfordshire community as well as extending and improving car parking spaces for visitors.

Over the past two years, Bedford has experienced a surge in street homelessness and the area is currently rated as having the third highest number of rough sleepers per capita in England. In direct response to this growing problem the Trustees of Emmaus Village Carlton applied to CRASH for help to make more of the underused space in an existing building – Silverbirches.

Silverbirches is one of three ‘dormitory blocks’ built in the 1960’s when the site was home to St. Margaret’s Carlton Reform School. Between 1999 when Emmaus took over the site to present day the internal accommodation has been altered considerably and was being used as staff accommodation, four Companion (a formerly homeless people are called) rooms, a laundry room, tank room and meeting room.

“Essentially, we needed to maximise the use of the existing accommodation available within the building by reconfiguring and converting space to create seven additional bedrooms as well as move on accommodation,” explained Chair of Emmaus Village Carlton Trustees Steve Arnold.

The seven new ensuite Companion rooms bring their total capacity to 42 rooms making them largest single homelessness project in the Bedford area.

The two move-on flats provide the opportunity for Companions who are ready to leave the main Emmaus project but are not yet ready to take what is often a huge step to independent living. The availability of these facilities enables Companions to test their abilities with the security of knowing help is near at hand if needed.

Donations of building materials were made by British Gypsum and Dulux Trade, heating and hot water was made possible through Heatrae Stadia Megaflow boilers that were given free of charge and flooring came from Altro and Heckmonwike.

CRASH Patron Areen Design procured and installed fixtures, fittings and furniture for all seven bedrooms, both move on flats and an additional room where Emmaus staff can stay overnight if on duty.

These donations of were added the cash grant awarded by CRASH of £30,000 making the total value of support £63,916.

The project was officially opened by the Mayor of Bedford who presented some of the Companions with keys to their new rooms.

CRASH would like to recognize the outstanding contributions made by Patrons Areen Design, British Gypsum and Dulux Trade to this project. CRASH would also like to thank supporting companies Baxi and Heckmondwicke for their continued generosity in helping projects such as Emmaus Village Carlton that make a real and lasting difference to vulnerable homeless men and women.