Post House: Winter homeless shelter to open in former Upper Holloway Crown Post Office
- Credit: Archant
A winter homeless shelter is set to open in the former Upper Holloway Crown Post Office.
A coalition of agencies including grassroots outreach group Streets Kitchen and Islington Council will transform the empty building in Junction Road, with work expected to start this weekend.
The Post Office closed the popular Archway facility and franchised it inside a Today's Extra store further up the same road earlier this year, despite an outcry from Communication Workers Union members, MP Jeremy Corbyn and councillors.
But it's now understood Streets Kitchen coordinator Jon Glackin has persuaded the landlord - who resumed control of the site from the Post Office Ltd. back in August - to let him open the shelter.
Facebook posts suggest it will be named: "Post House: A first class solidarity shelter".
Islington Council's housing chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward told the Gazette: "As I understand it they have told Jon that he can have it, which is brilliant.
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"I have been to see it, it's a really good space, perfect really for the needs of our winter homeless shelter.
"It's really important because the temperature's dropping. You have austerity, the government not helping to build new homes, mental health services and the NHS struggling.
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"You have this perfect storm leading to homelessness. It's our duty as a council, but also as a whole community to come together and make things work.
"This [homelessness] hasn't gone away and won't go away until we get a government that invests properly in council homes and services.
Cllr Ward confirmed Islington Council "will certainly be in the middle" of the project, which hopes to build on the momentum from last winter's solidarity shelter, The Glass House.
This three-month project, which closed in April, transformed an empty Hornsey Road building into a shelter with support services for some of the borough's most vulnerable people. This provided a blueprint for how empty buildings can be brought back into use to serve the community.
Jon Glackin was not immediately available for comment. But back in September the Gazette did an appeal, asking people to help Streets Kitchen find a winter shelter, when Jon said: "There are plenty of suitable buildings lying empty, so hopefully some lucky property owner will come forward. If we get our hands on all of them we can end homelessness over night."
Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz (Lab, Junction) told the Gazette: "Overall we are delighted. I mean, obviously we wish there wasn't any need to have homeless shelters, especially in such extreme conditions, it's awful people are put in those situations."
She added that it's "wonderful" the post office can again be a community service for the most vulnerable, at least in the short term.
Last November, volunteers counted 43 rough sleepers on the streets of Islington in an exercise designed to give a snapshot of the borough's street homeless population.
Another count is due to take place later this month.