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217 Harrow Road: A building that befits our recovery

Updated: Jan 20


Steve Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of St Mungo's talks about how Harrow Road reflects the charity's recovery's principles.


Harrow Road has been part of the fabric of St Mungo’s for over three decades.


From its first use as our head office back in 1990 to being a place of transformation and recovery today for thousands of people who are homeless or at risk in Westminster.


Most recently the building has been a temporary home to people who are sleeping rough in the borough. It’s an assessment centre where people stay for around a month where we work intensively to support them around housing, health and employment. It’s an important part of our work in this area of the capital, especially in this unprecedented year when we had to quickly make the project covid secure. Since the start of the pandemic, the team has supported a huge number of people to self-isolate safely and away from the day to day dangers of the streets and I’m immensely proud of this work.


But it’s time for a change. And time for a building that befits our recovery ethos.


Harrow Road is a little tired around the edges and we know that this space can be used much more creatively, to help many more people. I visited it myself recently and though it provides essential accommodation, the clients and staff I spoke to talked about how we could really improve the quality of the building, which in turn would make a positive contribution to the recovery of those we are supporting.


At St Mungo’s we work together with people on their recovery. It’s a partnership. We look at people’s strengths, ambitions and goals, and as such we recognise that the living environment is as important as the staff and support within the four walls.


Our buildings aren’t just simply bricks and mortar, they are places for positive change. Which is why I’m so excited about our plans to transform the building and provide more opportunities for our clients.


It’s a four year project, and before we even break ground we want to speak to our partners, our community and our clients on what is needed at the site. Clients have told us they value space, they value opportunities and they value a safe place to stay. So we are discussing move on flats and communal spaces. We have a commitment to design spaces in a psychologically informed way and know what a difference this can make. Our approach focuses on how the physical environment can actively support clients, staff and recovery.


In a time of rising rough sleeping our goal is to help more people who are homeless leave those dangers behind and rebuild lives. More space in our buildings means just that.


I’m excited to realise the potential of this building and we look forward to being in touch with more of you over the lifetime of this new St Mungo’s project.


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