Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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A 25-year milestone for Fernbank

June 08 2011
A quarter-century of helping people experiencing homelessness or mental health issues


The not-for-profit organisation Fernbank Care in the Community (part of the Beswick Group), in Wolverhampton, is celebrating 25 years of providing supportive accommodation to those experiencing homelessness and mental health issues. Fernbank’s founder and director Thomas Harvey-Beswick believes the key to their success has been “providing a safe, stable home where everyone can come to terms with their problems at their own pace [..] rather than placing restrictions on their recovery”. With a combination of hard work and determination, his vision of tackling the cycle of homelessness became a reality and has changed hundreds of lives since.

Fernbank is unique in that it provides not only a supportive community environment to those who have ended up homeless, but also looks to accommodate and care for residents who have been released from long-term institutional care for mental illness and who cannot support themselves alone. The close-knit community spirit is essential to the heart of Fernbank; staff believe this environment gives residents a “safe haven” where they can feel comfortable and supported.

Residents benefit from information and guidance surrounding skills for life, with the aim to grow confidence and prepare them for independent living. Topics cover personal safety, how to cope with stress and anxiety, as well as practical skills such as how to budget and use a computer. There is a firm no-alcohol policy, so substance misuse education is also a key discussion point.

The main hostel can provide accommodation for up to 12 residents from the age of 25 upwards, mainly in shared rooms, where residents receive 24-hour support. The option to progress to more independent living arrangements lies within the vicinity, as Fernbank has four “progression” houses where residents still have the option of support. Residents must be referred and come from bodies including the police, probation and mental health services.

Derek, a resident at Fernbank, explains how much he has gained from the service: “The longer I stayed at the hostel, the better my health became and I slowly started to regain my self respect. Without the caring and guiding way that Fernbank deals with its residents, I would not have had a second chance in life”.

Over the last 25 years, Fernbank has helped over 300 residents and has been home to more than 130 people who have been through prisons or mental health services and ended up on the streets.

To find out more about Fernbank and its services, visit