Homeless people are set to move into brand new wooden ‘pods’ – to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been looking to move residents out of the Macari Centre, in Hanley, since March following Government lockdown instructions to close down dormitory-style shelters.
Half of the occupants have been relocated to the Holiday Inn Express, in Trentham Lakes, while the other half have remained at the Regent Road centre with social distancing measures in place.
Now the council has built 12 housing pods for rough sleepers at a former warehouse 300 yards further along Regent Road.
Each fire-resistant pod provides eight square metres of floor space with an individual bed and a closable front door.
The council’s housing repairs company Unitas is now working to convert the 22,500sq ft building into a ‘bespoke new centre’, with toilet and shower blocks, a kitchen, laundry, staff facilities and upgraded electrics. Unitas is also building another 12 en-suite rooms.
The Macari Centre has purchased the first 12 pods and residents are set to move into the new facility within weeks.
Former Stoke City manager Lou Macari opened the centre in partnership with the council in 2016 and around 40 people were using the facility when the lockdown began in March.
The Government told councils to close down dormitory-style shelters and relocate residents due to the difficulty of maintaining social distancing in such facilities.
Lou has welcomed the new accommodation:
“The pods have really caught the imagination of the homeless people we bring in to the centre, and they are really looking forward to the move. We’re now trying to make that happen as quickly as possible. It will be a new start to their life.”
The Macari Centre, which has been heavily used ever since it opened, has been looking to move a larger facility, with the council earmarking the current site for disposal.
But no decision has yet been made on whether the Regent Road warehouse will become the centre’s permanent home.
The project is being paid for out of the council’s £16 million coronavirus funding from the Government.
Concrete, part of the Honeycomb Group, which helps homeless people into safe and secure accommodation, has also been providing support.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “Teams have been on site for the past two weeks and are continuing to work really hard to transform a large warehouse space into accommodation to meet the needs of residents at the Macari Foundation now, and in the future.
“We’re pleased to be supporting this work and look forward to the facilities being completed in the coming weeks.”