A new winter shelter run by SHP opened on the site of the former Holloway Prison visitors’ centre just before Christmas.

Funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), the service provides accommodation and resettlement support to people who are street homeless in Camden and Islington and can accommodate up to 25 people at a time with high support needs.

As well as accommodation and meals, the shelter provides personalised support from a team of onsite resettlement workers, including a dedicated women’s worker.  Residents have access to health checks, support with addiction and mental health, and longer-term housing options to move people permanently off the streets. SHP is working closely with local authority street outreach teams across the two boroughs to identify referrals, as well as exploring options for moving people on into hostel pathways in each borough. 

Peabody acquired the Parkhurst Road site for future housing development in March 2019, and pledged to open a temporary homeless shelter in the former visitor's centre. The housing association, which manages over 5,500 homes in the borough, worked with London Square to get the building ready for opening just before Christmas, enabling some people to get off the streets over the festive period.

SHP Deputy Chief Executive Toni Warner said: “This shelter is bringing together a range of services and outreach teams from the two boroughs to ensure we can provide for those in greatest need this winter. As well as offering respite at a difficult and dangerous time of year for rough sleepers, these shelters provide an opportunity to work intensively with people who may otherwise be very difficult to reach. It offers them a chance to begin to break the cycle of street homelessness and take the first steps toward recovery and a better future.”

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Housing and Development, said: “The history of Holloway Prison will be familiar to all who fight for social justice. Today, this community is fighting for the basic principle that everyone should have a safe, secure home and the support they need. We’re proud to have helped secure funding for this temporary shelter, so that this historic facility can be used to help support people in crisis and give them the help they need to build a life away from the streets.”

Cllr Nadia Shah, Camden Council’s Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, added: "Our Camden 2025 vision is that everyone in Camden can access a place that they can call home with no-one sleeping on our streets.

“The opening of this winter shelter is another step towards that vision as we work with our partners to ensure people who are currently rough sleeping are able to access the tailored and meaningful support that is needed to help them start rebuilding their lives away from the street."

 Aoife Conacur, Holloway Project Director at Peabody, said: “We made a pledge to open a temporary homeless shelter in the former visitor's centre, and are pleased to see it up and running. Alongside London Square, we worked hard to get the building ready for the Single Homeless Project to move into before Christmas.

“The services available to vulnerable people will make a real difference, offering support around health, benefits and housing, as well as help to access primary health care and legal advice. This is the first stage of opening up this historic site and we are looking forward to having more conversations with the community about the wider development over the Spring and Summer.”

Peabody is currently working with the council and the community to draw up plans for around 1,000 new homes.