Northfield hostel

8 July 2018

YMCA Birmingham’s Northfield site is undergoing a major £3.6m refurbishment to make it fit for purpose for the next 50 years.

Originally opened in the early 1960s to provide a safe welcoming home for young men moving into Birmingham in search of work, for the past 20 years YMCA Northfield has been providing supported housing for rough sleepers and other homeless people trying to piece their lives together again. After over 60 years of very heavy use, and often mis-use, the old hostel was looking and feeling very tired. Not only that, with a more challenging and mixed gender client group, the large communal kitchen and lounge were proving intimidating for many of our more vulnerable residents. In addition, toilets and showers were shared, adding to residents not feeling safe or valued. In short, the accommodation desperately needed to be brought up to date.

Inside the new hostel

We are now almost half way through a major refurbishment of the main building to create:

  • 64 attractive and comfortable en suite bedrooms so that residents no longer have to share showers and toilets with others,
  • 11 beautiful family-sized kitchen/living rooms, each shared by only a handful of rooms clustered around them, to help create a family feel where positive and supportive relationships between residents can flourish.
  • A training suite where we can offer support to residents as they seek to become employment-ready, learn how to budget, and receive similar training to help them prepare for living independently
  • A health suite where partner agencies can deliver important services for our residents and others living in the neighbourhood, such as drug and alcohol support, sexual health advice, mental health support, and so on.
  • New insulated cladding, roof and windows to modernise the external appearance as well as substantially improve its thermal efficiency
  • New heating, electrical, security and fire alarm systems throughout.

The first phase – creating the health and training suites and the first 17 en suite rooms – was completed just before Christmas 2017 and has been welcomed as a massive improvement by residents, staff and visitors alike. The décor and layout is calming, welcoming and domestic in feel – the old hostel feel has well and truly gone, and has been replaced by a home providing dignity, hope and aspiration.

The build in progress

To mark this transformation, the building has been renamed Magdalene Court, after another of Christ’s early followers.

We are now halfway through the second phase, converting the upper floors into en suite rooms and cluster kitchens, with completion due around Christmas 2018. We are also looking at other possible future improvements to our Northfield facilities.

The total cost of this transformation will be around £3.6m. Whilst a large proportion of this has been covered by generous grants from the government agency Homes England and other grant making trusts, the cost to YMCA Birmingham will be some £700,000. If you would like to contribute financially to make this transformation happen, please contact Alan Fraser