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Hicks House opens in Chichester to help the homeless

Stonepillow are delighted to announce the opening of their newly extended service ‘Hicks House’ situated next to their hostel on Hunston Road, Chichester.

In partnership with Chichester District Council, just over a year ago the decision was made to extend ‘The Lodge’ (the existing building), originally built in 2015, by doubling the number of self-contained studio flats.

With a short deadline for the application and designs to be submitted to the Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government via Chichester District Council, the Stonepillow Board of Trustees took the brave step and committed to delivering the project within 7-months, and once confirmation of the successful application was announced in September 2020, this meant all systems go!

As a condition of the funding, the project needed to be completed by the 31st March 2021. However due to the pandemic, this was extended to June 2021 and consequently the works were completed on time.

With an ongoing need to provide clients who were deemed ‘extremely vulnerable’ a safer accommodation option, the government ‘Everyone In’ scheme presented a great opportunity to encourage people with multiple needs off the streets, enabling us to really understand what the barriers were for them to successfully engage on a pathway to independence.

In summer 2020, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced the ‘Next Steps Accommodation Programme’ to support more permanent accommodation for those who had been in the ‘Everyone In’ Scheme. This programme provided match funding from MHCLG and Homes England to support the capital development, to build or purchase new self-contained units, with revenue funding to support the ‘Housing Led worker’ within the project.

The Housing Led Worker will be an advocate for the clients providing a wraparound support package to suit their needs, giving them choice and control. Working closely with partners and external agencies, they will source and prepare tenancy and facilitate the moving in plans.

Statistics have proved that previous clients who had lived in The Lodge had experienced a significantly improved outcome, stabilising their future journey into a new home.

Cllr Alan Sutton, Cabinet Member for Housing, Communications, Licensing and Events at Chichester District Council said: “As a council we are really proud to work in partnership with Stonepillow to help transform lives. In 2019, we had 32 rough sleepers in Chichester, and this has now reduced to three. This is thanks to the dedication of the staff, volunteers and officers who are working together to make a difference to the lives of those who are most vulnerable.

“This is why Hicks House is so important. It provides the next step to helping people move onto accessing their own accommodation. Providing high quality accommodation to give a safe and supported space is vital to giving people the confidence to rebuild their lives”.

The initial opening last Wednesday was attended by a small group of funders, commissioners, Stonepillow Trustees and team working within the project, and Stonepillow are looking forward to the official naming ceremony in September to celebrate the future success of ‘Hicks House’, named in memory of Andy Hicks.

Andy was an ex-client who successfully moved on through the Stonepillow services to enjoy living independently and worked for Stonepillow as a support worker, inspiring and guiding many people to follow in his footsteps. He was a highly valued and much loved member of the Stonepillow team, and his legacy will now live on through ‘Hicks House’.

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