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Homeless hostel in west Cumbria could also house just-released prisoners

A hostel for the homeless could also offer temporary accommodation for prisoners released from jail.

CASS Rachel Holliday photo
Rachel Holliday

The unit, which would house between 10 and 14 people, is being planned in Distington, near Workington, by the Time to Change project which has drawn up a business plan.

It is working with Whitehaven Community Trust – which itself runs two hostels for homeless youngsters in Whitehaven – to find a suitable venue in the village.

Distington parish council and Whitehaven Jobcentre are backing the plans.

The hostel is the idea of director Rachel Holliday, 33, who was homeless as a teenager, and is now working for Cumbria Action for Social Support (CASS).

People will be referred through Copeland and Allerdale councils, Durham Prison and Low Newton, private landlords, and other agencies and services, such as Citizens Advice Bureau.

Ms Holliday said levels of homelessness were rising throughout the country and there was a significant gap in provision in west Cumbria for a generic homeless hostel.

She said Distington was the ideal place as it was on the main bus route between Copeland and Allerdale.

She said: “The project has been set up as a community-interest company. We aim to take a broad approach to working with homeless people – not only providing a roof over their heads, but also encouraging them to develop life skills through volunteering, contributing to the management of the hostel and being more active in managing their lives.”

There will be alcohol and drug testing, as well as 24-hour CCTV and staff on site.

Rooms would be open from 6pm until 9am but be locked during the day so people can take part in schemes and work-related activities.

Ms Holliday added: “It is a common misconception that homeless and unemployed people don't want to work. This is not my experience. Time to Change is about introducing unpaid and paid work experience into residents’ lives.”

Once established, Rachel will be looking for businesses to sponsor a room in the project or schemes that could include street cleaning, making dolls’ houses, gardening, cleaning graffiti, and washing cars.

Information leaflets are set to be distributed to local businesses about the plans. Copeland Community Fund has given it £960 to develop a business plan to attract funding and directors.

Anyone with concerns or questions can contact Rachel on rachel.holliday@ttcwestcumbria.org or visit www.ttcwestcumbria.org

Have your say

can you please tell me why has the residents of distington not had any leaflets & voting slips put through the door so everyone can put there views forward because quite a lot of the villagers are house bound & can't get to these meetings I am also against this project

Posted by margaret on 20 September 2013 at 15:54

Please get your facts correct, the Parish Council have not backed this centre, in fact it is the total opposite, they are opposed to it as was pointed out to Ms Holliday on 6 September at the public meeting. Her business plan was severely flawed as was also pointed out to her by a local business man who had taken the time to go through it. The people in Distington are most strongly against this as she was told at the public meeting by several members of the Parish Council, for a number of valid reasons so lets see if Ms Holliday will fulfil her promise (that if the people of Distington do not want this she will go elsewhere) and go elsewhere. She has no qualifications to run a place like this and did indeed keep contradicting herself and changing her story as to what type of people would go there.

Posted by Gillian Penrice on 11 September 2013 at 19:11

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