“The work has given the centre a new lease of life.”
Last year, the four residential houses we lease were temporary homes to 67 families, including 74 children. This was slightly more occupants than the previous two years and illustrates the wear and tear fixtures, fittings and furnishings must withstand – with lots of feet, buggy wheels and all the paraphernalia that babies, children and their families need constantly coming and going.
Respect for families is a foundation of our work and one of the reasons we have such a good record in enabling positive changes in parents’ knowledge, understanding and behaviour. We had been extremely cautious about spending in the previous four years due to our financial position but decided that the houses were in danger of looking distinctly tired. We emphasise that our residential work is conducted, as far as we can possibly make it so, in a home-like environment. This is to help parents take the learning from St Michael’s into their own homes and daily routines after they have left us. We aren’t after the showroom look, but we do like our houses to be smart, fresh and attractive.
So at the beginning of 2015, we launched a Capital Appeal to enable us to recarpet, redecorate and re-equip the houses, in addition to some important work making meeting rooms at our head office better suited to their purpose.
We were delighted to meet our target, with the help of some of London’s livery companies, some trusts and many generous individuals.
Ironically, our refurbishing project suffered delays not because of funding problems but because of building problems. In autumn 2015, because of new fire regulations, our landlords began a major programme of works at three houses that neither they nor we had anticipated. At our request, this work is being staggered, as it results in major disruption and substantial loss of income. Work includes removing all wallpaper of any description, then replastering which of course delays recarpeting, redecorating and refurnishing. MEANWHILE other building problems were revealed.
The direction of travel, if not the details, may sound horribly familiar to anyone who has ‘just’ thought they would have a bit of work done to their home.
However, the end really does seem to be in sight, with work at two of the three houses now complete.
Staff take up the story:
“The main event with regard to health and safety and maintenance in 2016 was the large scale redecorations. For a while the centre had been in need of some attention, but in August we reduced the number of families living with us and worked alongside the painting and decorating team commissioned by our landlords to redecorate all the communal areas.
The interior of the house was stripped of wallpaper and re-painted in new fire retardant paint. Exterior woodwork and window sills were also cleaned up and painted.
The work didn’t end there. With clean, crisp walls our attention went to changing some of the tired and worn flooring. We now have new laminate flooring in the resident’s dining room, in one of the resident’s bathrooms and the staff kitchen, and new carpet in the residents’ lounge, the meeting room and the main office.
Staff members also got busy to bring all areas of the centre up to scratch. They painted areas like the main office over a four day period. Thought and effort went into a new colour scheme for the hallways and residents’ lounge where all new light fixtures were fitted. And we bought accessories such as curtains, artwork, pillows and throws to finish the look.
The results throughout have really made the centre more inviting and comfortable for the residents and staff that live and work here. Overall, it has been a great success." (House Manager)
Other staff said:
“Everything went to plan and the house was transformed.”
“I was really struck by just how much the centre has changed. It’s so much more inviting and comfortable for residents, staff, and visitors.”
“The house looks completely different to how it looked this time last year. The change is a noticeable and a welcome improvement.”
We are very grateful to all our Capital Appeal donors who helped to make this and all the other work possible.