County Durham Homelessness Jun 2016

CRASH Support of 700 Club “Changing People’s Lives”

In December 1994, a “bricks and mortar” sub-group of Darlington Housing Action Group made a public appeal for seven hundred people willing to donate £50.00 towards a new initiative for the homeless. It was calculated that this would raise enough money to purchase a small terraced house, then selling for around £35,000, which could be converted to house four or five homeless people.

More money was raised than the £35,000 target, and this gave the organisation, the 700 Club (named from the initial proposal of seven hundred donations), the opportunity to turn the dream into a much bigger reality. A partnership between a Home Housing Association, Darlington Borough Council and the 700 Club enabled the organisation to acquire two large adjoining properties on Grange Road in Darlington.

After much renovation, together they became Hope House, and in 1997 the 700 Club began to deliver services to the people of Darlington. It has been delivering services to the homeless ever since, and has added to its portfolio a second hostel, and the Lodge.


The need

Last year, CRASH completed a project which saw the conversion of a former Bed and Breakfast, ‘The Lodge’, into supported emergency accommodation for single homeless men and women in Darlington.

The 700 Club’s CEO Dr John Elliston approached CRASH for help to convert a former Bed and Breakfast, ‘The Lodge’, into supported emergency accommodation for single homeless men and women, many of whom have additional needs beyond accommodation (mental health, drug and alcohol problems, etc).

The solution

We assisted The 700 Club in creating 12 rooms with en-suite facilities – something that they felt would both help enhance their clients’ dignity and convey a strong sense that they matter as people.

The building is now ideal for the very complex clients with whom they work and with and will hopefully help them to provide a safe environment for more clients.


The help from CRASH has been invaluable – indeed without CRASH the project would never have become operational in the way that it has. The team built bridges between ourselves and the goodwill of their patrons.

Dr Elliston

CEO of 700 Club

How patrons helped

Professional expertise and advice was provided by CRASH Patron Arcadis. Fellow Patrons Dulux Trade and British Gypsum along with supporters Johnson Tiles, Twyford and Altro all donated materials.

The social impact

A Young Man’s Journey Through The 700 Club Services

P is a young male in his 20’s who has had a difficult childhood. He spent most of his days truanting from school. Subsequently P left school with no qualifications. In the 4 years following, P disclosed that he didn’t do a lot with his time and ultimately got involved with taking drugs, drinking alcohol and hanging around with the wrong crowd, which P now feels was out of boredom more than anything else.

At age 20, he was asked to leave the family home and spent the next few years sofa surfing with friends and occasionally staying out of area with his grandparents. Occasionally, he had nowhere to stay at all, and it was on one such occasion he was found by a 700 Club member of staff and was taken to the Lodge where he began his journey.

P was referred by the Lodge Staff to the 700 Club supported accommodation service via the Key Point of Access system at Darlington Council. When P moved into the hostel, at first it was difficult to engage with him, however eventually through different support techniques, he began to engage.

Working on a 1-to-1 basis P was supported to recognise the areas of his life that he needed to develop to try and help him achieve his goals of independent living and have a positive and productive life. P became very proactive in engaging with his support and quite quickly we worked with P to try and put together a plan for moving on. We needed to support P to get the other areas in his life stable and equip him with the information and skills to ensure that, if he had difficulties in the future, he would know what to do and where to go.

P moved on from the hostel service and took up a Local Authority tenancy; his support then transferred to the 700 Club Drug and Alcohol Floating Support Team. Working in partnership, as when in the hostel, needs were identified in order to help move P’s life forward in a positive way having now secured his own accommodation. Over the next few months the service maintained a close involvement with P to ensure that tenancy he kept on top financially and did not relapse into drugs or alcohol.

Before P exited the service, he was supported in attending a Warehousing & Storage Course and is now making steady progress towards gaining his Forklift Truck licence. In recognition of this, his grandparents bought him a laptop which he is using to complete his coursework. Since exiting the service, P has continued to flourish. When he finishes his training, he will get a guaranteed job interview where he hopes to secure a job in a Warehousing role.

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