State-of-art homelessness hostel for Kilburn
By Sean Moriarty
A hostel for homeless people in Kilburn, Conway House has just re-opened following a £5.4million re-development.
Conway House comprises 60 single person en-suite rooms, six units of general need family accommodation and a new training and resource centre.
It is owned and managed by Irish Centre Housing (ICH) an is part of Camden Council’s Hostel Pathway which seeks to support and direct vulnerable and homeless people to independent living.
The centre opened just as stringent new welfare benefit caps and social housing rules come into effect.
Leader of Camden Council, Councillor Sarah Hayward, told The Irish World: “Government changes to welfare benefits will have a severe impact on residents in Camden we are doing everything possible to protect the most vulnerable.
“Conway House is a great example of our Hostel Pathway scheme which provides over 700 beds for vulnerable homeless people.
“Our hostels in the borough include Conway House, Endell Street in Covent Garden, England’s Lane and our partnership with One Housing Group at Arlington house in Camden Town.
“The refurbishment of Arlington House was completed in 2010 and provides 38 bedrooms for homeless persons with a range of support needs relating to continuing alcohol use.”
Irish Centre Housing has a portfolio of over 300 units of accommodation in Brent, Camden, Islington, City of Westminster and Hertsmere. They provide high quality services to some of London’s more vulnerable people.
ICH purchased Conway House, a former nursing home, in 1974 with assistance from Camden Council.
Initially, the building opened as a 100-bed hostel providing temporary accommodation for single Irish men looking for employment.
The building became unsuitable for residents with complex needs, with its traditional institutional layout including triple and twin rooms with shared bathrooms and the decision was taken by ICH Board of Management to redevelop the site to provide modern, state of the art facilities.
The hostel also has a number of meeting rooms available for local community use.
Councillor Hayward described the facilities and environment at Conway House as “absolutely critical to helping people take the step from homelessness to leading full and productive lives.”
“I’d like to thank Irish Centre Housing for everything they do for people in the borough.
“Services such as these are more important now than ever with the government’s welfare changes and the threat they pose to families and residents in Camden.”
ICH’s partnership with City of Westminster College means that the training and resource centre operates five days a week. Residents can learn a range of skills including IT, arts and crafts, cooking and food hygiene and even get BTEC qualifications in work.
The hostel also has a number meeting rooms available for local community use.
Tricia Durkan, Chief Executive of Irish Centre Housing, said: ”We are very proud of Conway House, which is a major development for a small Association and a great achievement. It’s a journey that we haven’t completed on our own, and it’s been fantastic to have the support of the local community who have been with us all the way.
“We have enjoyed a successful and productive partnership with Camden Council over the past 40 years and look forward to this continuing for many more years to come.