Why are residents in Eliot Gardens thinking a place for people with drink and drug problems is opening when the building is owned by the diocese?
Can you confirm who owns the building and how has that come about?
If the diocese owns the building whose idea is to convert it into a hostel and who will be responsible for running it?
There is no intention to open a ‘place for people with drink and drug problems’ – it is a home for people who might be vulnerable for a large number of reasons and who as a result have been homeless.
The building is owned by The Diocese of Truro who, in line with its Christian mission to support vulnerable people, approached Cosgarne and other Cornish charities about the possibility of them buying or renting dormant housing stock to use as supported accommodation for homeless people.
Both the Diocese and Cosgarne Hall recognise that homelessness in Cornwall continues to be an issue, so the decision for Cosgarne to rent the property to house people with low-level support needs was made.
This unit, like Cosgarne Hall’s other ‘move-on houses’, will allow the charity to move on people who are more independent, but require some limited support while gearing up to move on to fully independent living.
What is planned for the property and who will be operating it?
The property will be a unit for people with low-level support needs who have already moved through the charity’s main site in St Austell. This client-group are independent but still need some help to find affordable, long-term accommodation with private or social landlords, of which there is a great shortage. The site will be visited daily by staff delivering support and will have 24/7 security.
Some residents are concerned it will be a place for people with drink and drug problems. Would they be allowed to drink alcohol and take drugs on the premises.
Again, it will not be a ‘place for people with drink and drug problems’ – it is a home for people who might be vulnerable for a large number of reasons and who as a result have been homeless.
As with all Cosgarne properties, the management imposes a strict zero tolerance of anti-social behaviour, both in the property and in the surrounding area. If a resident does not comply with this, the charity has grounds to evict them.
Cosgarne Hall has an open book policy with the police and shares information on a regular basis.
The charity abides by Section 8 of the misuse of Drugs Act in its letting strategy and residents of Eliot Gardens will be subject to the same laws of the land as the rest of us are in our homes.
The charity reiterates, though, that antisocial behaviour is deemed unacceptable.
Would the operators need any permission to open such as planning permission/change of use.
Residents have complained they have not been consulted on the matter. Will there be any consultation?
As the unit is designed to house no more than 5-6 people, so there is no requirement for planning permission at this stage. Once residents have moved in and staff are stationed at the property, the charity will connect with the local residents about its work.
This is no different to any landlord renting out rooms with shared facilities, a guest-house or small-scale student accommodation for example. In fact this property was a guest house just a few years ago.
A homeless person in supported accommodation is by definition deemed a vulnerable person, and as such Cosgarne Hall is required to do everything it can to safeguard them, to respect them and their privacy and to keep their information confidential. To pre-dispose residents to the kind of potential negativity that is already apparent in some quarters by advertising these plans would be in contradiction of this code of conduct.
This type of low-level support home does not require that any form of consultation is carried out. Moreover, it is our experience that neighbours who have concerns prior to a property like this opening are often pleasantly surprised once the residents are there.
When are they planning to open the centre?
This is not a ‘centre’. It is a shared house with one office/meeting room. We will start improvements to the property in June and will start moving residents in as rooms become ready.
Will the centre will available to people coming out of prison.
This home is not intended for direct access by people on prison-release. Cornwall has specialist places aimed at working with those who are on probation.
There is the belief that Cosgarne will be operating the premises, which people are concerned about following problems clients there have caused in St Austell with shoplifting, burglary and murder. Could the operators allay the fears of residents in Eliot gardens.
Cosgarne Hall will be managing the premises with staff on-site during the working week, and others on call if need be at other times.
Cosgarne Hall does not condone criminal behaviour and the concerns raised are heeded but are related to isolated incidents without, necessarily, any full understanding of their context and othe charity’s management of them.
The managers and trustees of Cosgarne Hall believe that a firm approach is required in the justice system for those persons who engage in criminal activity, and the charity shares information relating to criminal activity with all the agencies that work in the criminal justice system.
Cosgarne Hall delivers a support contract for Cornwall Council and is regularly audited to make sure it is compliant. Unfortunately, people often see the charity as a scapegoat because it does not hide its work or marginalise homeless people. Shoplifting, burglary and all kinds of crime – very occasionally including murder – happen across Cornwall in all communities. It is unfortunate that Cosgarne Hall’s name is nearly always mentioned when a resident is involved in a crime, whereas this is simply not the case for other landlords whose tenants may break the law occasionally.
Cosgarne Hall’s highly acclaimed work with housing, and supporting and moving homeless people forwards, as well as its community action days, are less well-publicised – but this is what it spends its time doing as a charity.
Each resident covered by our support contract has a dedicated key-worker and every resident is required to engage with the charity’s housing-related support and its Tenancy Sustainment Programme. The programme comprises training people in tenancy skills, rights and responsibilities, budgeting and other necessary skills for independent living. Alongside this, the charity offers therapeutic counselling, healthcare, art groups, community action projects to improve local areas, volunteering and a range of other positive, diversionary activities for people to engage with.
Cosgarne Hall sees deprivation and social, physical, mental and emotional maladies on the fringes of society, carrying out work that some mock and others do not want to be part of. However, the reality is that the charity has many hugely dedicated volunteers who understand the need for humanity around homelessness and work closely with residents to help them achieve wellbeing and independence.
The charity prides itself on the strong partnerships it has with a range of health, wellbeing, training and associated agencies to ensure people can access the support they need and deserve. Cosgarne Hall has remarkable success in nurturing independence in those deemed ‘hard to reach’, ‘vulnerable’ and ‘chaotic’ because it accepts them as people and works with them to find positive routes to being rehoused.
The new unit in Newquay will be for people at this end stage of recovery from homelessness, or those who have not experienced such severe crises.
Residents are concerned it will be next to three schools and a nursery. Could the operators not look for a premise away from schools if indeed they are opening a place for people with drink and drug problems.
As stated previously, this unit is intended for people with low-level support needs who may never have had a substance-misuse issue, and may simply be recovering from hard times, for example a divorce, managing mental or physical health issues, or job loss. We work with local schools on the St Austell Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) Working Group and would be happy to in Newquay.
We will be joining groups in Newquay that work to combat ASB and keep the town safe and pleasant, as we do in St Austell, as this is all part of our commitment as a charity in providing accommodation.
Newquay is a vibrant community with lots of opportunities for positive activities, volunteering and employment and we see our model of tenancy Sustainment, Community Action and Volunteering
working very well there. Our business model is to use local suppliers and we hope to bring this to Newquay.