Leeds homeless charity builds new homes for city's most vulnerable people

A Leeds homeless charity celebrating its 90th anniversary is set to unveil a pioneering development of new homes designed for some of the city's most vulnerable people who are trying to turn their lives around.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th April 2021, 10:34 am

Building work on St George’s Crypt's 24 supported living flats on Hedley Chase, New Wortley, is set to be completed in June.

The 'Don Robins House' development of one and two bedroom flats has been named after the priest who founded St George’s Crypt in 1930..

Don Robins transformed the crypt beneath St George’s Church in Leeds city centre into a kitchen and shelter for those in need.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Chris Fields (left), chief executive at St Georges Crypt, looking at the plans for the flats at Hedley Chase in New Wortley with Nathan Wilkinson for Brewster Bye Architects . Photo: Gary Longbottom

The new development will include two homes specifically for people under the age of 25, supporting some of the most vulnerable young people in Leeds.

The scheme - designed by Leeds based Brewster Bye Architects - has been developed in partnership with Leeds City Council.

St George’s Crypt’s first purpose-built development - Regent Lodge in Hyde Park near Headingley - was completed in 2019 and now supports 14 residents with alcohol problems.

They all live in self-contained studio apartments, designed to help development of life skills, boost self-confidence and aid self-esteem in a structured setting.

Last year it was named Yorkshire’s best residential development at the inaugural RICS Social Impact Awards.

Chris Fields, chief executive officer at St George’s Crypt, said: “This is an important year for St George’s Crypt because we have been the frontline of support for homeless, disadvantaged and vulnerable people in Leeds and its surrounding areas for 90 years.

“In that time, we have always been there for the city’s homeless community and to now be in a position where we can offer homes to people, as they prepare to live independently, shows how far we have progressed as an organisation.

“Our recovery programme, separate to Don Robins House, known as the Growing Rooms, gives people the opportunity to live together and work through their recovery every day in a class-based setting before volunteering within the city. It’s been a big success story helping countless people to turn their lives around.

“Don Robins House will share in this ethos. It will give people a safe and stable home where they can live for two years.

"During this time, they will receive support from a wide range of sources within the development’s dedicated training area, covering everything from nutrition to health and wellbeing.

"This will give them the confidence and ability to return to independent living and ultimately employment.”

Chris added: “Don Robins House will be the final chapter for people who are turning their lives around and we couldn’t have done it without the support of Yorkshire’s property community.

“The advice from Brewster Bye Architects, city living specialist Jonathan Morgan and Joel Owen from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, has been invaluable.

"In addition, the financial support and extended help from Crypt Factor, the annual charity singing competition, which the region’s property industry hosts and attends each year has also made a big difference.

"With this continued support, we’re now hoping to explore further development opportunities in and around Leeds, which could help put an end to homelessness once and for all.”

Nathan Wilkinson, a director at Brewster Bye Architects, said: “We’re very proud of our longstanding relationship with St George’s Crypt and to see Don Robins House approaching completion is a big achievement for the entire development team.

“We’re already seeing the difference that Regent Lodge is making, and this latest development will take the support the charity can offer to the next level, by offering people a genuine home, as they immerse themselves back into mainstream society.”

Leeds City Council is providing low-cost loan facilities for the Don Robins House project, as well as financing 30 per cent of the capital costs through its right to buy replacement programme.

Property industry charity, LandAid, which works to end youth homelessness in the UK, has also provided a £75,000 grant for the development.

Vistry Partnerships Yorkshire is the main contractor.