Funding to improve opportunities for rough sleepers in North Devon
MORE work is underway at Barnstaple-based homeless charity to transform the lives of homeless people in the town. The Freedom Centre has already helped hundreds of vulnerable people to get their lives back on track; and thanks to a �150,000 Government gra
MORE work is underway at Barnstaple-based homeless charity to transform the lives of homeless people in the town.
The Freedom Centre has already helped hundreds of vulnerable people to get their lives back on track; and thanks to a �150,000 Government grant - as well as more than �100,000 donated by well-wishers and local businesses - the centre is now making a number of improvements to the centre in Howard Avenue, Widdon Valley.
Work is already underway to create a new reception area, three new private consulting rooms and an improved gym/exercise room with new shower and changing facilities. The kitchen and workshop will also be refurbished to deliver NVQ training for service users in partnership with North Devon College.
Improvements are being carried out with the help of some of the service users, who will be learning valuable skills in the process. All the improvements should be complete by November.
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The Freedom Centre is unique in North Devon and offers an open access day centre for homeless and vulnerable people, as well as education and training programmes including life skills courses; basic IT skills; back to work training; and healthy living programmes using the centre's gym facilities.
The day centre also gives access to basic services such as food, clothes, showers, advice and recreation. All services are run by Freedom Social Projects or in partnership with other agencies.
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Projects manager Phil Noall, said: "Our meaningful occupation and volunteering programmes provide opportunities to build confidence, increase self-esteem and develop practical skills.
"Making these improvements will provide more homeless, ex-offenders, mental health sufferers, drug and alcohol users, single parents, disengaged young people and socially excluded individuals with more choices and better access to support."
The Government grant was secured with the help of North Devon Council. With support from the council, Freedom Social Projects, the charity that runs the centre, put in a bid for a "Places of Change" grant from the Government to turn the building into a "centre of excellence".
Cllr Andrea Davis, lead member for housing and health, said the project would improve much-needed facilities for vulnerable adults in the area.
"The �150,000 grant, together with the very successful fundraising by Freedom Social Projects, will provide first class facilities," she said.
"North Devon Council was recently recognised nationally as a lead authority for its work with rough sleepers. Working with partners like Freedom Social Projects is an effective key to improving the lives of our most vulnerable residents."
Trudy Robinson, the council's housing options service manager added: "Our housing advice service aims to provide more options and sustainable solutions to our clients' needs; the Freedom Centre supports this practice and these improvements will provide our Rough Sleeper Outreach Worker, based at the centre, more room to meet clients and provide additional support.