Homelessness West Sussex Jul 2022

New Resource Centre giving homeless people employability and life skills to get back into training, education and work

Crawley Open House has been supporting homeless and vulnerable people in West Sussex since 1994. The charity strives to help people suffering the effects of homelessness, unemployment, loneliness, discrimination, and other forms of social exclusion. Their advice, health, outreach, and resettlement teams work together to support men and women in the local community. They run a hostel, three move-on houses, a day centre and their new Resource Centre. 

Annually the 26-bed hostel accommodates over 200 men and women who find themselves homeless. Residents can stay for 28 days and access the support and advice to help them move on to somewhere better and more permanent. Crawley Open House also has three move-on houses for those capable of more independent living, with emotional and practical support from staff. 

The day centre runs 365 days a year with almost 17,000 visits annually. Guests can have a meal, a shower, watch TV, join a class (literacy, art, cooking or exercise), or get a haircut. They offer housing, health and financial advice, and guests can see a GP, chiropodist or trained counsellors.

The need

Homelessness charity Crawley Open House applied to CRASH to help refurbish an industrial unit they purchased in 2017. 

On a typical day in the day centre, they have too many young, bright and capable individuals sitting around doing nothing. They lack the confidence, skills and motivation to learn, train and work. The team have long wanted to create a meaningful project to offer training and work to those who would benefit from it but they never had the space to do it – until now.

The aims for this building were to:

  • Offer clients an employability and work skills programme, initially focusing on furniture restoration, bike maintenance and PAT testing of small electrical appliances.
  • Create a facility to handle and distribute donations of food, clothing, bedding and other goods from the public, away from the hurly-burly of the day centre.
  • Increase their storage capacity and allow them to accept bulkier donations (e.g. furniture and TVs).
  • Create a more discrete hub for Local Assistance Network (LAN) food parcels and other crisis provisions.

The solutions

The building is a light industrial unit which was in a dire condition, last used as an Indian takeaway. The asbestos roof needed replacing, the building needed stripping back to a shell, and new partition walls and flooring installed to create the spaces needed and maximise the use of the building. Gas pipes needed relocating and a heating system installed. The building required a complete refurbishment, and Crawley Open House needed help with the project to provide a safe, appropriate environment for the new services they planned to run from this building.

How CRASH Corporate Patrons helped

CRASH Corporate Patron Arcadis made the initial project visit and produced a report and cost consultancy services. Fellow Patrons AECOM provided structural engineering, Cundall donated M&E engineering services, and London Building Control provided building regulation advice.

CRASH supporters Lucion Environmental did an asbestos survey, Ben Adams Architects undertook the architectural design for the project, and SUMO Services undertook utility and measured surveys.

  • £58,780 worth of donated professional services and building products from CRASH Corporate Patrons and supporters.
  • £30,000 grant awarded by CRASH.

The social impact

“We are hugely grateful to CRASH and its Corporate Patrons for their specialist help around the design, planning and construction of our new Resource Centre. Crucially CRASH was the first funder to catch our vision and commit to a large grant towards it, which in turn encouraged others to do likewise. Thank you so much for your generosity, expert help and encouragement.”

Charlie Arratoon

CEO Crawley Open House

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