Church Housing Trust recently funded a get-together celebrating the 20th anniversary of services supporting homeless people in Westminster.
The anniversary marks 20 years since Bruce House was officially opened as a homelessness service by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 1995. Residents of the Grade II-listed building were joined by councillors, members of Church Housing Trust, and housing providers Peabody, Riverside, Look Ahead and Centrepoint to celebrate housing and community activity.
Church Housing Trust has been able to fund services at Bruce House since 2011, allowing them to offer employment and training support, and a number of arts activities, for 28 former rough sleepers in the building. More than 100 formerly homeless residents are housed and supported in the area through all four service providers.
The event was a celebration of tenant involvement and community activity, including a play and the unveiling of a mural about the life of George Peabody created by the Arts Cellar programme; Spanish and blues guitar playing; a gallery of works by artistic residents; and creative workshops. Food was provided by local Mediterranean restaurant, Sarastro.
James came to Bruce House in 2013 after a period of squatting and experiencing difficulties with his mental health. He has always been a keen artist, and began participating in the London Connection art group, where he says he feels painting helps stabilise his mood and gives him a sense of purpose. James unveiled ten new pieces of artwork themed around cubism and animation at the birthday celebration.
Bruce House has been providing housing in Westminster for the past 109 years, and was once described by George Orwell as ‘excellent value for one and a penny’ in his memoir Down and Out in Paris and London.