A Bradford charity has taken possession of a massive 26-bedroom home to “help people out of homelessness” across the city.
Emmaus Bradford has recently received the keys to a huge former nursing home on Pollard Lane, overlooking Bradford Moor Golf Club.
It will eventually provide shelter for 26 people with rough sleeping places but the gated house will require significant work before it can provide secure long term accommodation.
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The charity is soliciting help from local tradesmen to help them carry out essential repairs and maintenance.
“We have a big hill to climb,” said Emmaus Bradford general manager Fran Graham.
“We have the building and we are so excited – but now we want to refurbish it real quick.
“So we’re asking the good people of Bradford to help us.
“We need people to come and help us decorate, do small repairs and do gardening.
“Any handyman out there who wants to come and help us, please join us.
“Every hour dedicated to this building truly changes someone’s life.”
Gareth Jones is a man who knows all about the transformative impact Emmaus can have.
In 2006 he became homeless and lived on the streets for two months.
“I had nowhere to go,” he said.
“Looking back, I realize how bad it really was. At the time I had no one to rely on – but then I heard someone talking about Emmaus.”
Gareth was quickly accommodated by Emmaus Leeds and three months later he moved north of the border to Emmaus Glasgow. He stayed there for four months, receiving training, advice and support from the charity while living in a warm house.
The 40-year-old has lived on his own property for 11 years but still volunteers at Emmaus Bradford’s town center shop to give back to the charity that helped him through his most difficult times.
“Not only did Emmaus give me a place to live, but I got the support to get my life back on track,” he said.
“When you’re on the street, you don’t know what’s going to happen from one minute to the next. I couldn’t even plan an hour in advance.
“But living in Emmaus meant I could plan two, three, four days in advance. It gave me a chance to relax and get the support I needed.
He added: “The Bradford home will make a huge difference. You are walking through Bradford now and there are many people in tents or in sleeping bags in the doors.
“It’s so important to have a place where we can help.”
The guarded home, which will be manned 24 hours a day, will be Emmaus Bradford’s first-ever home.
“We’ve been working on this for 10 years,” said Fran.
“It’s a really big deal because the model is about coming out of homelessness. The building is the final piece of the puzzle for Emmaus Bradford at this stage.”
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The project is also supported by neighbors.
dr Keith Manchester, who lives next door, said: “Emmaus Bradford will offer some of Bradford’s most vulnerable residents a second chance and a brighter future, which can only be a good thing.
“Sometimes people just need kindness and a helping hand.”
Much of the project’s funding comes from grants, but the day-to-day running of the house is partially subsidized by the charity’s two Bradford Resue shops, on Sunbridge Road in the town center and Cross Lane in Great Horton.
Residents of the house – known as “companions” – will also gain invaluable work experience by volunteering in the shops, while also contributing around the house by cooking meals for other companions and generally helping out.
Fran said, “We don’t create rows of beds. We build a community.
“It is important that people not only have housing, but also have the support around them that gives them the opportunity to live independently and get a job.
“The Companions will form this community by cooking meals together, helping with cleaning and upkeep. Everyone here has to have some personal responsibility.”
Much needs to be done before anyone can live in the home, but Emmaus Bradford hopes to welcome its first eight residents later this year.
They also want to make the remaining 18 rooms habitable as soon as possible and provide each companion with their own bathroom.
Fran said, “The faster we can renovate it, the faster we can enable people to come out of the cold and start down the path to a better life for themselves.”
If you can help Emmaus Bradford with his new home makeover, email [email protected], call 01274 945270 or visit the charity’s website.
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