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The Final Push

by Michael Ford last modified 29 Oct, 2021 09:07 PM

Throughout the year, Poole homeless charity Routes to Roots (R2R) has pressed on with the redevelopment of the former Hill Street Baptist Church, now to be called the Genesis Centre, and the opening is planned for December or January.

The Salisbury Diocesan Social Welfare Fund has part-funded the work (story here), and the High Sheriff of Dorset has also offered his support (story here). 

Susan Gittins from Routes to Roots says: 

"As might be expected, this has been a difficult undertaking. Given the age of the building, its historic importance (Grade 2 listed status) and period of disuse, a number of problems were encountered, notably the entire replacement of the flooring, which caused delay and expense. Also, contractors being unable to work at times because of Covid interruptions and other work commitments seriously impacted the time schedule. 

"In addition, some of the work originally scheduled for phase 2 has now been completed as it was more cost-effective and practical to do it when the appropriate contractors were on-site. Essentially, phase 1 is the completion of the main hall, kitchen, showers, laundry, toilets, office and dining and IT area, which enables move in and operation from the building. Phase 2 is completion of a second hall and external work, which will allow services to clients to be extended and ensure the building is in good condition. 

"The charity’s pro bono architect Ken Morgan has outlined the final work needed to permit the move into the new building. Over the last year the unexpected and adapting to meet both the challenges of the project and the pandemic were to be expected, so move-in date is still very much a fingers crossed situation, but R2R is pleased to say that they are working towards this December/ January." 

The charity is actively planning activities to offer after the move to the new building, and is in talks with various groups who have used their Drop-ins for outreach services. The St Mungo’s street charity and the BCP* Council rough sleeper outreach team have confirmed they will return, as have the chiropodist and hairdresser. 

R2R is providing a separate consulting room for further health and welfare teams to take up the opportunity of town centre outreach, to offer a comprehensive service to clients including essential drugs and alcohol services. 

In April, R2R indoor Drop-ins restarted at the Skinner Street URC** with hot meals on weekday lunchtimes for a mixture of 11-12 rough sleepers and vulnerably housed. R2R is currently raising money for the remainder of phase 2, which will begin next year as funding permits, and also to fund its ongoing and planned activities for the new year. 

If you have some time and would like to volunteer or make a donation, please contact the R2R Office or visit the website. 

* Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole 

**United Reformed Church 

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