First look at Colchester’s transformed homeless shelter which is reopening in July

First look at Colchester’s transformed homeless shelter which is reopening in July

A CHARITY which supports the homeless is preparing to reopen to those in need of shelter after 18 months of closure.

Colchester’s emergency night shelter – now known as Colchester Engagement and Next Steps – is holding an open day today ahead of its official reopening planned for July 5.

The shelter has been unable to open since last March, as the site could not support social distancing of residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

While the shelter was closed, the charity was able to obtain funding to transform the building to provide residents with their own room and ensuite.

Marina Woodrow, manager, said the open day is an opportunity for people to see all of the improvements made during the closure.

She added: “Our shelter had 20 beds, with nine twin rooms, before the revamp and we could not offer everyone their own room and they had to share a bathroom.

“But we are now a 17-bed single room shelter and all of the rooms have ensuite facilities.”

A new health and wellbeing room has also been installed and the communal area has been redecorated.

Funding for the renovation was secured with the help of a £112,000 National Lottery Community Grant and £15,000 from the Colchester Catalyst Charity.

The shelter will now offer around-the-clock accommodation, rather than just overnight stays.

Marina said she is being contacted daily by people needing to use the shelter as many are in “desperate situations”.

She added: “We will be open 24/7 and our name is changing to Colchester Engagement and Next Steps as we will also offer education, training and volunteering to our residents.”

The charity has been running for more than 35 years, providing shelter alongside support for drug, alcohol and mental health issues.

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