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A refuge from the cold

Zak Garner-Purkis

Homelessness is a terrible situation for someone to find themselves in at any time.

But as we enter the throes of winter, the thought of having no shelter from the cold is an even more bleak and terrifying thought.

The bitter cold that greeted attendees this morning at the topping out ceremony of the new LandAid House project only served to emphasise what a powerful refuge the building will be once completed.

The former City YMCA hostel near Old Street, east London, has been rebuilt and remodelled to expand its capacity and facilities to assist vulnerable and homeless young people in the capital.

It’s one of the projects supported by Construction News’ 2018 Talent Awards charity partner LandAid, who raised £1.5m to get the facility built.

LandAid has hosted a range of events to raise funds in support of YMCA’s new facility including a ‘sleep out’, which saw a number of business employees raise £269,000 by spending a night sleeping rough.

It’s a cause well worth the effort as the finished project will provide safe, supportive accommodation for 146 Londoners who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.

But they don’t just stop there, the topping out ceremony featured two young people helped by the centre.

Both of these young men had not only been given a safe place of refuge, they’d also been given the tools to rebuild their lives.

One of them was even being given an opportunity by the contractor building the scheme, Allenbuild, who have enrolled the young man on an electrician course.

It was a powerful demonstration of how the industry can not only construct amazing spaces, but do amazing things in the process.

That was something that was shown at the Talent awards, where along with showcasing the industry’s excellence in training, recruitment, wellbeing and development, it also raised more than £1,000 for future LandAid projects.

And judging by today’s topping out ceremony every penny will be extremely well spent.

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