James Worthington, a successful property developer who was once homeless, has decided to convert a former carpet store into a shelter for homeless people in Manchester. Worthington bought the building for £210,000 in October 2019, intending to transform it into nine flats, which would have made him a profit of £1m. However, he later sold his own home, downsized, and refinanced the building itself to fund the shelter project. He also had to have his drawings adapted to suit the new design, which cost him £30,000.
Worthington decided to offer the unused building to a homeless charity for a few months, knowing what it was like to experience the cold in the winter months, having been homeless himself. However, when he received a bill of £30,000 in business rates, he had to close the pop-up shelter and proceed with a soft strip demolition.
He then decided to build a new shelter from scratch, costing him an estimated £700,000. The new design will include interview rooms, a children’s playground, a tranquillity garden, a workshop and conference rooms, offering people the chance to turn their lives around within a three month period. Worthington even plans to hire life coaches and career advisors to give residents the best chance possible. The shelter will be an area of zero drug and alcohol tolerance.
Worthington plans to offer stays of three months, allowing occupants to take on the tools to change their lives. He estimates a 75% success rate of pulling people from returning to the streets, with the council’s current rate at only 15%. The cause is close to Worthington’s heart, after he ran away from home at 15 and found himself sleeping rough for a spell, living in his friend’s shed for a week before moving into the house.
To fund the shelter, Worthington sold his home for £107,000, downsized, and refinanced the new building. Amazingly, he has received thousands in donations, raising £7,000 through brick donations, as well as a cabin worth £20,000 from Sun Belt Rentals, all the bricks donated by Marshalls, the scaffolding from Connolly’s Scaffolding, materials from MKM, and windows from Regency Glass.
Worthington’s plan for the shelter is to help those wanting to turn their life around, allowing them to see their children again. He said, “If you really want to change your life and see your children again, you should want to do the three months.”
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