Structural work completed on £20million YMCA hostel in south of Islington

Guests at the topping off ceremony at the YMCA's new building in Errol Street. Picture: YMCA

Guests at the topping off ceremony at the YMCA's new building in Errol Street. Picture: YMCA - Credit: Archant

London’s first new purpose-built accommodation for vulnerable homeless people in more than a decade moved a step nearer completion last week when structural work was completed.

The new £20million YMCA building in Errol Street, near the City border in south Islington, has been eight years in the making and will house 146 youngsters when it opens next summer.

The old building, which was opened by the Queen Mother in 1985 and housed 5,000 tenants over 32 years, was declared not fit for purpose and flattened last year.

Its replacement will include “move-on” accommodation, supporting tenants’ transition into independent living, something the old hostel – with its small bedrooms, shared showers and limited disabled access – did not do.

The “topping off” of the structure was done on Tuesday by Peter Estlin, lord mayor of the City of London, and James Murray, Sadiq Khan’s deputy for housing, and Islington’s former housing chief.

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He said: “This is a project that I’ve seen since its first germination as a local councillor. I’ve seen ground being broken and now being topped out. This is just one part of the housing crisis and people facing homelessness are at the sharpest end of it, and it’s absolutely right we do everything to help them.

“It’s worth taking a brief moment to recognize the success of what’s happening here and the real achievement in everyone coming together.”

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Now the structure is finished, the charity needs help kitting it out, which will cost about £1.5m. A gift list has been set up so people can buy the 2,000 items needed, ranging from £15 for two pillows to £2,500 for a pool table.

Chief executive of the City YMCA Gillian Bowen said: “If you have ever felt the dilemma of giving money to a homeless person then here is the remedy. The gift list is a practical way to make a huge impact on the life of a young homeless Londoner. I implore you to dig deep and offer hope to these young people today.”

View the gift list at

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