Refuge turned into centre for homeless

People with local links will benefit from Honiton scheme.

Honiton’s former refuge has been turned into an accommodation centre for homeless people with local links.

Up to 20 people can be accommodated at Gissage House, which opened this week.

The scheme is being run by Independent Futures, part of Devon and Cornwall Housing, and funded by East Devon District Council in a bid to provide vulnerable people with temporary accommodation.

People will also be offered support to get their lives back on track and, ultimately, the skills to help them live without outside help.

They will have access to support networks, including education, training and employment opportunities.

And they will also be encouraged to get involved in local community life – such as carrying out voluntary work – during their stay.

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Alan Leach, i-Futures’ area manger, said: “We have identified a clear need for a new local service dedicated to homeless people with a connection to East Devon.

“It’s a cost effective, secure environment, with tailored support for individual needs to help people while they look to relocate to long-term accommodation.”

Gary Brown, i-Futures’ general support team manager, added: “We have been overwhelmed by the goodwill and generosity of local people and community groups who have donated hundreds of items of basic living essentials like food and toiletries for our residents.”

The accommodation includes furnished bedrooms for individuals and families as well as communal kitchens, laundry and recreational areas. A part-time support worker will also be on hand to provide help and advice on a wide range of issues, including housing.

Among those likely to benefit from the service are people who have been forced out of their home due to fire or flooding, those whose relationships with their families or partners has broken down and those escaping domestic violence.

Councillor Jill Elson, cabinet member for sustainable homes and communities at East Devon District Council, said: “I welcome this new service. We have several vulnerable people who need help, advice and guidance on how to maintain a tenancy, pay rent regularly, maintain their property and learn life skills.

“Additionally, some people do become homeless through no fault of their own by fire or flood and need immediate help, and that means sorting things like finances and a new home.”

Around 100 people with local links to East Devon are expected to use the service each year, with the average stay estimated at three months per person.