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Work begins on new homes in Deptford for young homeless people

The Deptford Ragged Trust is redeveloping the Shaftesbury Centre to provide a new community hub and 33 homes for young homeless people.

Work has begun on a pioneering new project that will see the Shaftesbury Centre in Deptford redeveloped to provide a new community hub and 33 homes for young homeless people.

The development is being led by the Deptford Ragged Trust, the charitable trust of the Bear Church, in partnership with J49 Housing, Bench Outreach and Lewisham Council. The existing centre will be replaced with a new community hub – incorporating a flexible worship and event space, a café, a local museum archive – and 33 one-bedroom flats for young homeless people.

The new homes will provide specialist housing for people aged 18 to 35 who are homeless or have a severe housing need. J49 Housing and Bench Outreach staff will support residents into education, training or employment and provide them with the help they need to maintain their tenancies.

The new community hub will host a range of events and activities to benefit the local community, including soup kitchens for rough sleepers, parent and toddler groups, film festivals and exhibitions.

Representatives from the Bear Church, the Deptford Ragged Trust, J49 Housing and Bench Outreach were joined by Cllr Brenda Dacres, Cabinet Member for Housing Development and Planning at Lewisham Council on Thursday morning to celebrate construction works getting underway.

The project forms part of Lewisham Council’s Building for Lewisham programme, which is delivering new social homes across the borough for families on the Council’s housing waiting list and other local residents with a particular housing need.

The new building – which will be called ‘The Bear’ – is expected to open in 2024.

Cllr Brenda Dacres, Cabinet Member for Housing Development and Planning, said: “I am delighted to see work getting underway on this important project that will have a transformative impact on the lives of young homeless people in our borough, as well as providing a fantastic new space for the local community to come together.”

Bex Keer, from the Bear Church and Deptford Ragged Trust, said: "After years of dreaming, we are delighted to be beginning this exciting new project. As a church committed to our local area, we are passionate about providing a place of homecoming to the people of Deptford. At this time when there is such great need, we seek to be a warm and hope-filled presence for those who need it. We're thankful for the generosity and vision of our community, partners and funders. We look forward to opening the doors of The Bear in 2024.”

Simon Thomas, Chief Executive of J49 Housing, said: “We are excited to be collaborating with the Deptford Ragged Trust and Lewisham Council to build homes that people can afford with a ‘Creative Community Living’ ethos. Community is at the heart of all our developments so people can live in a sustainable, affordable home and thrive as individuals. We are looking forward to future partnerships and collaborations.”

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