Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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St Barnabas hostel makeover

September 25 2009
Soho‘s only women-only hostel closes for an ambitious renovation On hearing rumours that one of the oldest hostels in London was about to close, The Pavement was first on the scene. But all is not as it appears, as the hostel will only close its doors for a renovation. But, at a time when the number of beds for homeless people in London is decreasing almost daily, financial pressures have forced St Barnabas to go the same way. Dilapidated accommodation and escalating costs of maintaining the building at No 1 Greek Street, along with the ever-greater difficulty in raising sufficient funds, has put pressure on the House of St Barnabas Charity to reconsider the future of the hostel in its current form. The House, which currently has 39 beds, will close its doors as an accommodation centre in March, but will reopen in an estimated 18 months after an extensive redecoration programme to improve the building and conditions for the new residents. The aim of the regeneration scheme is to help more women on a more regular basis, via a more intensive move-on scheme, entitled the Life Skills Programme, which is already practised at St Barnabas. This programme specialises in providing educational workshops and courses, financial support and housing advice to women on a daily basis, but without accommodation. Eluned Santos, chief executive of the House of St Barnabas, is confident that the Life Skills Programme will maintain its great success rate and that the House will carry on helping local homeless women. "It is imperative that we help these people and we will continue to provide a service to those who need it". She has received support from other charities, and is confident that all current residents will be assisted to find more suitable accommodation before the hostel closes. Supporters and staff at St Barnabas are sure that this change will be beneficial to those it helps, but the reality is that there is no other women-only hostel in the area and when the hostel finally closes, there will be no compensation for the number of beds lost. However, in the long run, if the staff at the House of St Barnabas are able to reach more women on a regular basis and help them, the future looks bright for the women of Soho. The house of St Barnabas in Soho has been helping homeless people in London since 1846 and became a women-only institute after the Second World War to help women who had been "demobbed", i.e. mostly those whose homes had been destroyed in air-raids, or had lost all their financial support during the war.