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Homeless people in the Boston area of Lincolnshire now have a better chance to get their lives back on track thanks to new purpose-built supported accommodation which was officially opened on 22 September.
The new accommodation – the first of its kind in Boston – has been developed by Framework as part of its ongoing investment strategy to improve the quality of accommodation provided by the charity everywhere it works, and not least across greater Lincolnshire.
The building project was funded by the government agency Homes England, from Framework’s own resources and with a substantial donation from the Medlock Charitable Trust. The project has been supported throughout by Boston Borough Council and local MP Matt Warman.
Medlock House provides new purpose-built accommodation for single homeless people with complex support needs. It is built on the site of the former pub and is the result of a development project worth just over £2.1 million. It replaces former accommodation at South Terrace – an older building that was not purpose-built to house homeless people.
Staff are on site 24 hours a day to manage the building and provide support to the residents, oriented towards successful long-term resettlement and more independent accommodation. Every resident has a self-contained flat behind their own front door, each with its own bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living space. People who are referred to Medlock House will have a range of needs, some associated with mental ill-health, alcohol or substance misuse and a history of homelessness. Eighteen people can be accommodated at any one time.
ln addition the building provides facilities for the use of homeless people living elsewhere in Boston and the agencies supporting them.
Last week’s official opening celebration was delayed by Covid: the accommodation was completed in December 2020 and initially occupied during the pandemic in January 2021.
Around 50 guests from across the public, private and voluntary sectors gathered at the new building on Lincoln Lane including The High Sheriff of Lincolnshire, Mr. Tim Strawson, the Mayor of Boston, Cllr Anne Dorrian, Mr David Medlock whose family trust has contributed to the funding of the project, and representatives of Lincolnshire County Council and Boston Borough Council.
Before unveiling a plaque to name the building Medlock House, Cllr Dorrian reflected on the significance of what had been achieved:
“I remember reading about the planning consent back in 2019 and thinking how on earth will this proposed new-build replace a small pub [the Duke of York previously on the site] – and it is testament to the vision and determination of the officers of Framework that you not only imagined a creative way to re-purpose this brownfield site but that you delivered fantastic apartments.
“The importance of supported accommodation such as this cannot be overstated. In preparing for today I did some research about the current situation regarding homelessness in this country and I was struck by some information I found on the charity Crisis website. These comments make difficult reading and listening but as community leaders we cannot shy away from problems because they’re unpalatable.
“Crisis say ‘Homelessness is devastating, dangerous and isolating. The average age of death for people experiencing homelessness is 46 for men and 42 for women. People sleeping on the street are almost 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence. More than one in three people sleeping rough have been deliberately hit or kicked or experienced some other form of violence whilst homeless.’
“This puts into context the huge importance of the work that Framework does. As we all know, the difficulties that homelessness brings don’t just evaporate by providing individuals with four walls, a roof and a front door. The key work that you do around housing, employment, healthcare and budgeting runs parallel to the provision of accommodation and this in turn supports and sustains those soft skills which are so difficult to measure, such as self-confidence, self-esteem, self-worth and helping people find their place in society.
“Everyone who lives at Medlock House today, and in the future, is part of our community and it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that they feel welcome in it. Homelessness is not simply ‘house-lessness’. To be homeless is to lack roots, ties to a place or a sense of belonging. This wonderful new facility offers individuals a chance to re-establish connections and gives them a space that can be made personal and comfortable and, most of all, safe.”
David Medlock, Chair of the Medlock Trust, said: “Having maintained close contact with, and support for, the Centrepoint homelessness charity in Boston for many years I am pleased that the Medlock Trust has been able to provide funding to unlock this project which will undoubtedly enhance the support and provision available in Boston for those individuals in need of this help.
“There are very few projects which we have agreed to put our name to but homelessness is an area about which we feel strongly and we are delighted to have done so in this case.”
Following last week’s event the Medlock Trust committed to donate a further £5,000 to Framework for each of the next three years to fund anything, at the discretion of the management of Medlock House, that would enrich the lives of its residents. In addition to the substantial donation already made to fund the service this is another massively generous gesture by David Medlock and his fellow trustees for which we are all most grateful.
Speaking about this major housing development for local homeless people, Framework’s Chief Executive Andrew Redfern said:
“The creation of Medlock House reaffirms Framework’s ongoing commitment to provide good quality homes and living environments for homeless people. This kind of modern, purpose-built accommodation has been desperately needed in Boston for many years and we worked very hard to make it a reality.
“I am therefore delighted that so many partners came together to help fund and facilitate this project. The increase in homelessness and rough sleeping locally and across the county over the last ten years has been alarming. The key to tackling it successfully is to provide high quality supported accommodation where people can live with dignity in good quality accommodation and receive the support they need to get their lives back on track.
“Effective partnership working is key to delivering this kind of accommodation and I would like to thank everyone who has played a part in this project. I know that this development will be a vital asset in tackling homelessness in Boston for many years to come.
“The difference in outcomes for those living in a new flat with their own front door, compared to a dingy room in an old hostel, is stark. There are benefits not only for the individual but also the public purse: investment in good quality supported housing gives service users a much better chance to re-establish their independence quickly, thus leading to a long-term reduction in the cost of services to support them.
“The opening of Medlock House is a significant landmark in our programme to replace shared accommodation in unsuitable buildings with new self-contained flats, thus increasing both the range and the quality of supported housing options available to those in need.”
Mr Tim Strawson, the current High Sheriff of Lincolnshire, has made tackling homelessness the focus of his year in office. Talking about his contact with Framework he said: “What I have found is a passion and enthusiasm among Framework staff and I feel extremely humble to meet all these great people working so hard to help people in need.”
Framework has been providing a variety of homelessness-related services across greater Lincolnshire since 2011. Currently we have 218 units of accommodation across Lincolnshire of which 40 are in Boston including the 18 at Medlock House. In the past 12 months we supported 509 people with accommodation across Lincolnshire of whom 70 were in Boston.
In the same period, to prevent homelessness, we also worked with a further 400 people living in the community.
The Medlock House project is part of a wider development of new accommodation for homeless people in the Boston area: this has seen 27 new units of self-contained accommodation provided in the last three years at a total cost of £3.1 million with funding coming from the government agency Homes England and the Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme.
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