Calderwood House opens to bring hope to the homeless

Richard Rhodes officiall opening Calderwood House (Source: D K Powell)

Richard Rhodes officiall opening Calderwood House (Source: D K Powell)

By Ken Powell

After a long two-year campaign to provide a hostel for the homeless, Calderwood House in Egremont was finally officially opened by Richard Rhodes, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria, on Wednesday 30th September.

The former police station which has been leased on a ‘peppercorn rent’ of £1 per year can now take up to 11 residents and will employ 10 members of staff.

Speeches were given by those close involved in the project including the Commissioner who talked of the desperate need to help the homeless and, in particular, those who were ex-military. He warned that “with defence cuts it is likely more will be coming to the north in the future.”

Peter Turnbull, Vicar of Cleator Moor and firm supporter of the project, and Guy Huxtable who wrote the business plan for project also gave speeches; both praised Rachel Holliday, the woman behind the venture, for her determination and tenacity. Mr Huxtable said “we all have ideas but it is usual to say ‘someone should do something about this’. It takes someone very special to say ‘I should do something about this’.”

Rachel Holliday praised those who had supported her and thanking many who had helped secure funding for the project. She told the Egremont 2Day that “I know how easily homelessness can occur. I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. After working hard to get myself out of poverty and into employment, I then began working as a support worker in homelessness in west Cumbria.”

Talking of the issues of homelessness she said it “can be totally avoidable with access to a facility like Calderwood House. Our local and county councils are struggling financially in these difficult times, so I decided to set up my own social enterprise ‘Time to Change West Cumbria’ and do it myself.”

Social enterprise is a key aspect to Calderwood House. “We’re not a charity,” Rachel Holliday explained, “we’re a social business.” This means that the enterprise can create jobs and income for the public good without the restrictions usually imposed on a charity.

Although the hostel will be open to any homeless person after a vetting process, Time to Change is prioritising ex-military and to do this has set up links with a number of organisations including the British Legion and Combat Stress.

  • Rachel Holliday giving her opening speech (Source: D K Powell)