Home comforts

How temporary accommodation offers a safe haven for the homeless and vulnerable

There are many reasons why people need temporary accommodation. They could be homeless or have been forced to leave their family home. They might find themselves at a reception centre with children, in a distressed state, having been through a traumatic experience.

In these situations, reception centres can provide shelter. “I have managed one of Islington’s centres for 10 years,” says Jim Walker. “It has space for up to 38 people, including room for families. In total, we have four across the borough. Most of the residents stay with us six months to a year and many of them would otherwise be homeless, or are dealing with a family crisis.” While their applications are being processed, each person is given a self-contained studio to live in with its own kitchen, bathroom, living and sleeping space. “The charity Shelter estimates that one in 52 people in London are homeless – and the main reason for that is lack of affordable housing.”

Islington Council is the biggest landlord in the borough, managing homes and other types of accommodation such as these reception centres. All four reception centres are currently being refurbished by Mears Ltd, which works for Islington Council’s capital programme delivery team.

The bathrooms are being upgraded, along with the emergency lighting in the communal stairways. After this, they will install double-glazed windows to make each space warmer and more comfortable, as well as help reduce heat loss, condensation and noise.

“The new windows will make such a difference to keep the rooms warm,” says Jim. “We are happy with the results of the new bathroom and showers.” Murad is a happy recipient of one of the new rooms. “It is a very comfortable space. If I didn’t have this, I would be on the streets. Now, I have a safe space.”

Mears Ltd, which is carrying out work at the centre on behalf of the council, will also give every resident a bag with essentials such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and lip balm inside. Some people arrive at the centre with very few personal belongings and limited money, so gifts such as these that are basics to so many of us are very welcome. “We like to think those who stay with us leave in a far better state than when they arrived,” says Jim. “Reception centre staff play a key role in that.”

Islington Council’s mission is to end homelessness in the borough and provide safe, decent and secure homes for everyone. This centre is one step on that journey, providing shelter for people in times of need.

If you are in need of support, get in touch with Islington Council’s housing team on 020 7527 5300 or visit islington.gov.uk/housing for more information.

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