Finishing touches for Thetford homeless hostel

A SCHEME to renovate a homeless hostel in Thetford is nearing completion with the finishing touches due in a matter of weeks.

A SCHEME to renovate a homeless hostel in Thetford is nearing completion with the finishing touches due in a matter of weeks.

Teams of construction workers have helped to expand and adapt John Room House, in a bid to cater for single homeless people across Breckland. And, as the Times took a first look, the hostel, on London Road, is beginning to take shape.

The original building has been completely transformed, internal walls have been knocked down, and plastering is almost finished. This will house 10 single bedsits, including a kitchenette, living area and bathroom in each. Seven will be on the ground floor, one of which will cater for people in wheelchairs, alongside an office, interview room, communal living room and laundry room.

Next door is a brand new two-storey building made up of 12 move-on flats, complete with a sedum green roof, a type of grass chosen for its bio-diversity and eco properties, and windows preventing people seeing in.

The �1.1m project has been funded by Breckland Council, which owns the buildings, and a contract to provide support services and management is currently out to tender.

Breckland's principal housing officer, Darryl Smith, said the aim was to break the cycle of homelessness and to provide a comfortable living environment.

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“What used to happen was that families and single people used to share a bathroom and toilet and although there weren't any problems, it wasn't very nice,” she said.

“People will be in the single units for about six to eight weeks before they go to the move-on flats for about nine months. They'll be encouraged to interact to build up their social skills and to use the living area.”

All bricks and windows from the original building have been cleaned and re-used, and the whole site has been built to the latest eco-standards.

Plastering has begun in the original building, which has a completely new layout, and next week painting will begin, doors will be fitted and lighting installed. Next door the timber is covered with a thermal barrier, ready for the outer layers.

Site manager Andy Easy, of construction firm RG Carter, said between 20 and 25 sub-contractors had completed the work, with about 15,000 bricks being used for the two buildings. Outdoor space will be used to encourage residents to grow their own vegetables.

The first building is due to be completed in March, with the two-storey in April or May.

Ms Smith added: “It's a very important project for Thetford where there are a number of single homeless people. Obviously there are people you can and can't help but the important thing is those people you can help live successfully so they don't end up back here.”