Providing housing for the homeless in Ipswich

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A new project to provide housing for the homeless in Ipswich has been initiated with a partnership between the East of England Co-op, Selig (Suffolk) Trust and Orwell Housing Association.

Thanks to their collaborative working, a new home in Ipswich has been refurbished and is now housing two individuals who had previously been homeless. 

The house has been aptly named 'The Cord'. This name is taken from a scripture that says: "a triple-braided cord is not easily broken". This project is the result of East of England Co-op, Orwell Housing and Selig working together - three organisations strongly bound by a common desire to serve those in need of homes. 

The property, which is owned by the East of England Co-op, had been empty for 6 months. Orwell Housing Association obtained a grant from Homes England from their Move on Fund to help facilitate the project. The refurbishment has now provided shared accommodation for two individuals, with their own individual bedrooms and shared bathroom, kitchen and living room. Orwell Housing are now leasing the property with Selig (Suffolk) Trust managing the home as part of the national Hope into Action project.

Greg Dodds, Assistant Director of Development at Orwell Housing Association, explained: "The intention is that the property provides move on accommodation to enable the individuals to come off the street, and with the support provided by Selig and Hope into Action, re-establish themselves in the community and eventually move on to independent permanent accommodation."

He added: "This has been a fantastic project to work on and proves collaborative working between organisations can really make a difference to peoples lives."

Nick Denny, Joint Chief Executive for the East of England Co-op, told us: "We saw the Selig Trust and Hope into Action needed help in providing homes for the homeless in our area, so were delighted to provide a two-bedroom home in Ipswich. It's an example of how we're able to make a real difference in our communities thought our property portfolio. 

"Co-op Property team colleague Claire Wright has been working with Selig's Charity Manager Julia Hancock, alongside Orwell Housing, to prepare the house ready for its first Hope into Action tenants."

Julia first met tenant Mark* on an organised trip in the Yorkshire Dales. Having previously used a church-based winter night shelter, Julia reached out to Mark and offered him the opportunity of a home in Ipswich. Arriving at Ipswich train station with just one carrier bag, Mark has settled into Suffolk life. He said: "If it wasn't for organisations like this, I'd still be on the streets - or worse. 

"When you think you're low, there's no light at the end of the tunnel; but when something like this happens to you, it gives you hope. My life's completely different now. I'm working and I volunteered at the Ipswich Winter Night Shelter, because I wanted to give something back."

Julia added: “Mark’s put a lot into volunteering; he really cares about our night shelter guests, because he’s been in their shoes. Not many people are brave enough to do what Mark did – moving to a new place to leave temptation and unhelpful influencers behind. Partnerships like this with the East of England Co-op and Orwell Housing Association are absolutely invaluable.”

A second Hope into Action tenant has just joined Mark.

“Through the support of The Selig Trust and Hope into Action, the aim is to support tenants to gain long-term employment and manage money so that they can, in time, move into their own home,” concluded Julia.

*The name and identity in this article have been changed.