We are in the most amazing buildings here in Orange Street. For those of us on the staff who worked in the old building we never cease to enjoy working here. The “old” building was in a Victorian block. Its very name, “Institute Buildings”, conjures up very vividly the building it was! We were on the top floor which entailed us walking up four flights of stairs. These stairs were marble and when the weather was wet they were lethal. Trying to get intoxicated clients up and down them was a feat in itself. How someone never got hurt was a miracle. Clients had to buzz the intercom to get in and we would see them on camera and then let them in. We would then have to follow their progress up the stairs on other cameras before arriving in reception. This sometimes was a laborious process, especially when they were intoxicated. Often if there was trouble at the door we would have to run down the stairs so many times to sort it out. When the shopping was done for the Centre on a Monday we had to drag all the bags upstairs. We also then had deliveries from Crisis Food Share and down we would go again and heave up more bags! It was totally exhausting. And this was before a client had even set foot in the door.Once in the building in the main room clients were very much on top of each other and any flare-up of trouble was just entertainment for everyone. Clients would let their opinions be known and what had often started as trouble between two clients escalated in to more. It all made the job of managing the Project so much more difficult. We had to leave the old buildings as they were up for re-development. They tried to get us out many times and towards the end were threatening to come and re-possess the building. On the advice of our solicitor, Wendy, our manager and the then Senior Project worker Lindsay had to sleep a night in the building to make sure this would not happen. It all made for an exciting exit! (Unless you were trying to manage the process.)
Here we are in Orange Street on the ground floor, although we also have the use of the second floor. It is bright and light and is so welcoming. We can isolate any pockets of trouble before they escalate and also give much needed privacy to clients when needed. We have other rooms to allow other service providers too to use and these are well used. We have been able to develop Life Skills with the clients and explore lots of ways for them to creatively spend their time. One of our best investments has been in the purchase of three leather sofas. The rough sleepers love them and after a bad night will settle down for a good sleep in safety and comfort. Being leather too means they can be cleaned very quickly and effectively.
So you may see why this building means a lot to us. Something that may seem like a small detail is that we have an amazing caretaker here who really wants to help us and is always so ready to do so. After the old building, where just to try and get hold of the caretaker was a logistical feat this has meant so much to our staff team. Being in Orange Street has meant a fresh start for us all and we are relishing every moment of it.