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Homeless shelter pledges: This is just the start

"I’ve never seen a vibe like this"

03 May, 2019 — By Emily Finch

THE creators of a groundbreaking homeless shelter have promised “it’s just the start” with plans already in the pipeline to build similar refuges.

As previously reported in the Tribune, multiple organisations, including campaign group Housing Justice, Islington Council and Streets Kitchen, joined forces to create the Glass House shelter at an empty warehouse in Hornsey Road.

The volunteers at the shelter – always scheduled to shut after 12 weeks as part of a pilot scheme – said farewell to their final guest this week. Accommodation was found for all guests.


Some of the faces behind the shelter: Jon Glackin, Sam Hadfield, Ronnie Moyse 

More than 200 volunteers cooked, cleaned and looked after the space, which could sleep 16 people each night with some rough sleepers offered partitioned pods for extra privacy.

Jon Glackin, founder of volunteer-run Streets Kitchen, which feeds homeless people throughout the country, said: “A lot of people really didn’t think we could do this.

“Our critics were coming at us and calling us ‘chaos monkeys’ but we now know this model works really well and is sustainable.”

Christian homelessness charity Housing Justice was impressed by Mr Glackin’s vision and helped him secure the warehouse from building firm Fitzpatrick Team Developments.

“I do this because there are too many people dying on the streets. This is just the start. I’m preparing the next winter shelter,” he said.

The Mayor of London chipped in while Hornsey Road Traders Association provided a £3,500 donation.

Sam Hadfield, a co-ordinator at the shelter, said: “I’ve never seen a  vibe like this. We had one friend – I call guests at the shelter friends – who couldn’t speak when he first got here. By the end we had him singing Bob Marley on the karaoke.”

Those staying overnight were offered art-and-craft classes, hot meal, warm shower and toiletries.

Owner of the building Mark Fitzpatrick is exploring “a couple of options” to make the shelter permanent.

“We are in talks with Islington Council to gain planning permission,” he said. “We were very pleased with the pilot. It was such a success. No upsets, no incidents, no complaints from anybody.”

Town Hall housing chief Councillor Diarmaid Ward said: “It shows what can be achieved when the whole community pulls together.

“But this is not the end. Let’s make this the first of many successful collaborations.”


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