A homelessness charity has created extra accommodation to help support its members live more independently and move on into the wider community.
Emmaus Colchester has converted the first floor of its Home Shop at 99 High Street to provide the new living space for seven members of its community.
The first-floor conversion has been named, Dave Parks House, in memory of a former companion and member of staff. The accommodation includes a communal living and kitchen area and seven en-suite bedrooms.
Denise King, Chief Executive Officer of Emmaus Colchester, said: “The space above the Home Shop was used for storage but it made more sense to convert the first floor into extra rooms for companions. They told us they wanted bigger rooms to enjoy and to be more independent, which Dave Parks House will give them.
“The adjustments needed to the Home Shop on the ground floor to allow for access, also gave us the opportunity to refresh our retail offer and overhaul our flagship store.”
The project was overseen by Emmaus Colchester’s Board of Trustees, with Architects, Purcell, working with Abacus Build UK Ltd, to transform the space into vibrant accommodation for its new companions.
“Working with Purcell and Abacus has been the best part of the project. Building anything is never easy, but we’ve had a good team and we all share the same ethos,” adds Denise.
“By developing our own building, we specified our exact requirements. We wanted high quality and good–sized rooms for the companions to provide comfort and to make them feel valued, to be similar to those at the Community House.”
Charles Ince, Trustee of Emmaus Colchester, said: “The completion of the conversion is the realisation of an idea first discussed five years ago. Any number of people, past and present trustees, staff, companions and external professionals have been instrumental in bringing this project to a successful conclusion. While I cannot namecheck them all, I would like to thank Simon Plater for his initial scheme and planning work; Craig Woods of Purcell for making the project a reality and all the team at Abacus Build who have persevered throughout these Covid times to deliver the completed scheme.
“The trustees believe that this additional accommodation provision is available at a particularly important and challenging time for our local homeless and we look forward to helping yet more people rebuild their lives and their confidence, finding meaningful work within the Colchester Emmaus Community.”
Craig Woods, Project lead, of Purcell said: “Emmaus offers life changing opportunities for those within our community that need it most. It has been a privilege to work with the charity and give this redundant high street building a new lease of life. I am proud to have continued Purcell’s work with Emmaus on this project, as we also continue to work with them across the region including a project in Hertfordshire and Norfolk.”
Andy Stringer, Director, of Abacus Build UK Ltd, said: “Although we have worked with Purcell many times before, this was our first time working with Emmaus, and it was an honour to work with them on such a worthy project.
“We find Emmaus inspirational and dedicated to their cause and we are incredibly proud to have worked with them. To know that we have contributed to helping those less fortunate fills us with pride and we will not hesitate to help where we can in the future. We look forward to growing our friendship in the coming months and years.”
The project is part of a wider plan to increase Emmaus Colchester’s permanent accommodation, which includes 24 rooms at the charity’s Community House on Magdalen Street, while reducing its rented portfolio.
Pictured here: (left to right) Andy Stringer and Wayne Ayton – Abacus Build UK Ltd, Denise King – Emmaus Colchester and Craig Woods – Purcell.