Former Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion striker, Geoff Horsfield, who founded the Geoff Horsfield Foundation to help homeless people, official reopened YMCA Birmingham’s Magdalene Court yesterday after a multi-million pound refurbishment project.
After standing in Northfield for fifty-eight years, a series of grants from Homes England has enabled the supported housing project to be refurbished for the first time, at a cost of £3.5m. As well as upgrading kitchen facilities, each of the 64 rooms now has its own bathroom, rather than five people having to share each one. The housing project, which now also contains training rooms to help get residents back into work, will provide a home to people who would otherwise be homeless.
Thanks to funding from the National Lottery, the scheme will now also be able to offer specialist support to ten young people with more complex needs, such as substance misuse and mental health issues. The new service will give young people the chance to get the specialist support they need to build a brighter future.
Making the announcement, YMCA Birmingham Chief Executive, Alan Fraser said: “We are delighted to be reopening Magdalene Court at a crucial time for Birmingham.
”There has been a ten-fold increase in rough sleeping in the city over the past decade so we are working closely with the city council to ensure that these sixty-four rooms are helping to tackle that problem. We recognise that in recent years there has been a particular problem finding safe, secure accommodation with support for young people who have more complex needs. Magdalene Court will now be in a position to help tackle that problem directly.
“As an organisation we are committed to providing facilities that give people dignity and in which they can feel safe and secure. Thanks to the generosity of Homes England and the National Lottery, and our partnership with Birmingham City Council, we’re confident that Magdalene Court now does that.”
Mr Fraser added: “The work of the Geoff Horsfield Foundation has been an inspiration to many people across the city, so Geoff seemed the obvious person to invite to reopen Magdalene Court. We’re looking forward to welcoming him to YMCA Birmingham and hearing more about the foundation’s plans to help get rough sleepers off the streets.”
Speaking at the opening Geoff Horsfield said, “I am delighted to have been asked to officially open Magdalene Court and to see fisrt hand the positive impact that is already having on the people who live here.
“The work of my foundation and that of YMCA Birmingham is linked in so many ways and I look forward to working with YMCA more in the future, to support homeless people to get their lives back on track.”
Caroline Cormack Head of Home Ownership and Supply for Homes England in the Midlands said: “Homes England is proud to have been involved in this project, the completion of which has been the result of a collaborative effort between all partners involved.
“It’s clear that Magdalene Court not only provides a welcoming and supportive environment for its residents but also has the facilities necessary to have a positive long term impact on their futures.”
Councillor Sharon Thompson, Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods at Birmingham City Council said, “It’s fantastic that YMCA has been able to reopen this housing project. Birmingham, like cities across the UK, is facing a national housing crisis and the impact of this on people, services and local resources is unprecedented. So, to have a safe and secure place like this to be able to direct people is imperative.
“Not only do we have 91 rough sleepers on our streets, but 12,500 households on the housing waiting list and 600 new homeless applications every month. It is therefore absolutely critical that the city comes together, be that the council, our partners like YMCA, and members of the public to ensure we’re doing all we can to put the right interventions in place, at an earlier stage to prevent this horrific cycle of homelessness.”