Work underway on homeless centre in South Shields

Stanhope Road's homeless house development.
Stanhope Road's homeless house development.

Work to convert a derelict building into a place for homeless people to stay is well under way.

The charity Emmaus North East – which supports homeless people – revealed last year how it had bought the former children’s home in Stanhope Road, South Shields.

Terry Waite, president of Emmaus UK, which is building the homeless refuge.

Terry Waite, president of Emmaus UK, which is building the homeless refuge.

Since then, the roof of the property has been repaired and all asbestos and rubbish removed. Now the team is getting set to revamp the building to turn into a place where up to 15 people will live.

The residents will work full-time in a shop, set up as a social enterprise in South Shields, where they will recycle furniture and other household goods for sale.

Sue Wilson, chairwoman of Emmaus North East, said: “Work is progressing well, but there is still a lot to do to get it ready for the residents this autumn.

“We are about to start the main restoration and conversion work, and we are looking for donations of building materials or cash if people would like to help us.

Work is progressing well but there is still lots to do.

Sue Wilson

“I would like to thank our donors, supporters, volunteers and South Tyneside Council for all their help.”

The South Shields Community is the first in the region for the group.

Terry Waite CBE, president of Emmaus UK, said: “It is wonderful to see that renovations are now under way in the North East.

“For some time now we have recognised a need for an Emmaus community in this part of the country, supporting people who have experienced homelessness to get back on their feet.

“I have been involved with Emmaus for 25 years now and I have been lucky enough to meet many of those who have benefited from living in an Emmaus community.

“Over and over again I hear from them that this charity does make a difference, offering them a home, companionship and meaningful work.

“It also helps them to overcome the feelings of abject loneliness they feel when they’re living on the streets, a feeling I understand only too well from my time in captivity.”

Mr Waite spent almost five years as a hostage in Lebanon, much of it in solitary confinement. He was released in 1992.

He will be at the Customs House, South Shields, on Tuesday to talk about his work with Emmaus. Doors to the free event open at 6pm, but people must register beforehand.

To book a place, visit the website HERE.