The Lodge is a 40-bed B&B hotel opened by St Mungo's and The City of London Corporation to offer accommodation to long-term rough sleepers, aged between 40 and 65, some of whom may have been on the streets for decades. The first ten people have moved in, with others currently being referred in through outreach workers.
They will have a regular bed for the night with staff on hand if they do need any further help. They will also have the chance to meet staff from outreach teams and access other services who will make regular visits to the hotel each week. Outreach workers will actively assist guests with move-on options, depending on people's various needs.
The Lodge has been refurbished to a high standard by leading architect Gus Alexander. It has a welcoming communal TV lounge, a dining area, a laundry and a kitchen for guests to use. The Lodge has received funding from the Homes and Communities Agency's £80m Places of Change programme, The City of London Corporation and The Fresh Hope Trust.
This exciting project draws some of its inspiration from the privately-run Lindsay Hotel, based within The City of London.
One newly-arrived guest was a rough sleeper for 12 years. He moved into the Lodge, having previously been a guest at the Lindsay Hotel. He said: "The facilities and furnishings are very good, the plumbing works and there's plenty of food. There'll be a mix of people here as more people move in but, if it's like the Lindsay, having that mix and the right staff brought people up. You're not alone like you can be in your own flat. I can carry on doing my gardening, my music and my paper round and I have my own room to come back to. I'm very grateful to be here."
Charles Fraser, Chief Executive of St Mungo's, said: "We know that older rough sleepers are some of the most resistant to the usual routes away from the streets - often very independent, self-sufficient people used to their own patterns of daily life. There is a tendency for them to be unwilling to use the current services on offer. Our challenge then is to provide a better alternative to sleeping on the streets that appeals to them directly.
"The answer, we hope, is the Lodge. As a hotel rather than a hostel it will offer guests a fresh approach, with the back up of assistance to find their own permanent accommodation. The Lodge is an exciting example of what can be achieved when funders, council partners and services providers share a desire to try a new, imaginative approach to tackling rough sleeping. We're very pleased to be working with the City of London in this new joint venture."
Billy Dove, Chairman of the Community and Children's Services Committee at the City of London said: "The City of London works hard to engage with rough sleepers, support them to access specialist services and ultimately to get them off the streets and to begin rebuilding their lives and The Lodge at St Ursula's is a further demonstration of this commitment. I am confident those using The Lodge will thrive in a more independent environment, with the support of staff where necessary. We are grateful to the Homes and Communities Agency and others who are backing The Lodge as a place with the potential to transform hundreds of lives."
During the first week, the Lodge was also visited by Terrie Alafat, Director of Housing (Delivery and Homelessness), Housing and Planning Group from the Department for Communities and Local Government and funders and supporters from neighbouring St Ursula's Church, the Origin Housing, Trustees of St Ursula's, Camden Council, and the Homes and Communities Agency.
Charles Fraser and Terrie Alafat
Origin Supported Housing Manager Billie Owen said: "Origin Housing, the Landlord of The Lodge at St Ursula's, has worked closely with St Mungo's and the Trustees of St Ursula's (the freeholders) over the last year and is proud to support what is a traditional, yet forward-thinking way of helping older, long-term rough sleepers."
Councillor James King, Executive Member for Community Safety, Camden Council, said: "This accommodation will give homeless older people the opportunity to become independent and support themselves, increasing their chances of staying off the streets. Many homeless people have issues such as alcohol dependency and other health issues, and The Lodge will allow them to receive help they need whilst gradually enabling them to support themselves. I hope this project means many long term homeless older people will be able to get off the streets for good. The hostel management team, Camden Council's outreach services and the police will work closely with the local community to ensure that the project does not have a negative impact on the local area."
David Lunts, HCA London Regional Director, said: "This unique scheme will help those rough sleepers who slip through the net for conventional homelessness support. It is another example of the HCA looking to identify a range of approaches to combat rough sleeping through the Places of Change programme, which is helping individuals make the transition from the street to a settled home."