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Ground breaking grassroots night shelter opens in former industrial site

Charities, community groups, the Mayor of London and local councils are coming together to open an innovative new winter night shelter to help people with nowhere to sleep in Camden and Islington this winter, with the opening of The Glass House: a ‘liminal’ space project.

The project will be run for three months in a disused factory building in Islington after a private owner offered the property to community groups to help people experiencing homelessness. Volunteers have joined forces to renovate the building, and grassroots group Streets Kitchen and charity Pilion Trust will be on site providing food and support services to those staying at the shelter.

The Glass House comfortably sleeps 15 or 16 people, with space to accommodate up to 50 when temperatures drop to or below zero degrees and City Hall opens emergency weather shelters across the capital. Camden and Islington councils have backed the scheme, and are members of the steering group which also includes Pilion Trust, Streets Kitchen, Quaker Homeless Action, The Outside Project, Housing Justice and Sam Hadfield, a local community support worker who runs Caris boxing club supporting young homeless people.

The Mayor of London has contributed £25,000 to The Glass House through his Equipping Shelters project, a partnership with charity Housing Justice providing £450,000 funding and support to community and faith-based projects this winter.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: It’s fantastic to see the local community coming together to transform an unused building into a winter night shelter, providing rough sleepers with somewhere warm during the coldest months of the year and support to help them off the streets for good. The Glass House will make a real difference to those in desperate need and I hope other landlords and freeholders are inspired to follow this example and use their empty buildings for a vital cause.”

Cllr Dairmaid Ward, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Housing and Development, said: “Islington council and our partner agencies are working extremely hard to combat homelessness and help people off the streets and into safe, secure accommodation.  The ultimate aim of our work is always to help rough sleepers move away from the streets into getting into safe accommodation, with the support they need. “This new shelter will be a wonderful new support space to help people get a roof over their heads, get their lives back on track and move forward with the support they need, and we are delighted have had a part in creating it.”

Housing Justice Chief Executive, Kathy Mohan said; “We are pleased to support the Glass House in an innovative use of an empty building to offer hospitality and hope to people experiencing homelessness. It has been incredible to see this site transformed from empty industrial space to a warm and hospitable place of shelter and we hope it will be a place of transformation for the people who spend time there.”

Jon Glackin, Co-ordinator of Streets Kitchen said; “After so many years campaigning to put unused empty buildings back into use to resolve our homeless crisis, we are delighted to be part of this unique pilot project with so many grassroots groups, the local community, and official agencies simply working together to achieve this aim. The solution lies in working in solidarity to assist others, together we can resolve homelessness. This is just the beginning of what we see as a long term solution to ending homelessness. No one should have to be on the streets with so many empty buildings available that we could put back into use to save lives and create better futures for all.”

Rose-Anna Fitzpatrick, Director of Fitzpatrick Team Developments Limited, the owners of the building, said; “Fitzpatrick Team recognise homelessness and rough sleeping is a growing problem in towns and cities across the UK, so we didn’t hesitate to make this space freely available for The Pilion Trust, Housing Justice and Streets Kitchen to continue the vital work they do for some of Islington’s most vulnerable people.”

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Contacts: Jacob Quagliozzi, Director, England Housing Justice, 0203 544 8094 / 07807096824

Notes to Editors:

A ‘liminal’ space is known as a transitional, transformational time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ At the end of the project, guests from the shelter will continue to be offered support from the various stakeholders involved in the project. The venue will be returned to its private landlord.

Streets Kitchen is a UK & Ireland grassroots group working to help the homeless community, providing daily outreaches with food, clothing and information that benefits our streets.

The Pillion Trust is an Islington based Homeless charity offering a variety of services including The Crash Pad a night shelter open from 5th December to the 2nd of May supporting homeless young people in crisis, providing a friendly family orientated place that they can rest and feel safe.

Housing Justice is a national homelessness organisation supporting churches, faith and community groups to respond to homelessness in safe and effective ways. Through its national network of more than 120 grassroots night shelter projects. In London Housing Justice runs the Equipping Shelters project which seeks to increase and strengthen grassroots night shelters across London with funding from the Mayor of London.

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