Construction has started on a £ 4m renovation to add additional temporary shelter to end homelessness.

Three floors of One YMCA’s Charter House Hostel are being redeveloped to create 34 new rooms for restless sleepers as well as engagement and activity spaces that help restless sleepers rehabilitate independently.

Now contractor Willmott Dixon Interiors has started construction on the project.

The new facilities include a full-height lounge and portal for residents, a new commercial kitchen with expanded dining areas, and a training kitchen for residents. The building will also benefit from a new coffee shop, computer room and quiet room.

The contractor allocated five percent of the project’s value to initiatives with social value, including internships and apprenticeships.

A YMCA will go through various enhancements to accommodate rough sleepers

A YMCA has received a £ 2.2 million investment from the government to fund the project and the charity will provide £ 1.8 million of its own funds for the landmark to further improve it.

The charity says the combined investment in Watford will bring an estimated half a billion pounds of social value and savings to the local government each year by lowering the significant cost of homelessness in the city.

Mark Turner, Director of Operations at One YMCA, said, “It is almost impossible to understand how difficult and risky it is for those who sleep poorly on our streets to face day in and day out, especially during this time in Covid.

“These risks are literally a matter of life or death for many people with underlying health conditions. However, when we make the difficult decision of changing the use and renovation of areas of our building to create this much-needed housing, we are absolutely certain that we have saved lives and helped many otherwise vulnerable people on their journey towards independence. ”

The aim is to move people to the new units as early as July this year.

A design for a studio space coming to One YMCA

However, developments have resulted in the YMCA gym, dance studio and sports hall being ordered to close with immediate effect on January 28th.

This also meant the Watford Gymnastics Club, which cares for over 900 children each week, was ordered to close.

While Watford Gymnastics Club continues to search for a new permanent home, the club announced yesterday (April 22nd) that it had secured a temporary spot in South Oxhey.

In a letter in which the club first had to move, it was stated that the club was informed of the decision at the last minute and the news came “out of nowhere”.

The letter states: “We have not been consulted at any point in this process. The first time we were made aware of this was on January 28th (2021) after funding was secured. So this news hit us out of nowhere. ”

Guy Foxell, CEO of One YMCA, said he deeply regrets having to let the club know at the last minute.