Boarding house for homeless to close

Jericho House in Lothian Street. Picture: Tina Norris

Jericho House in Lothian Street. Picture: Tina Norris

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A BOARDING house for the homeless is to shut its doors after more than quarter of a century due to falling numbers.

Jericho House, which has helped hundreds of vulnerable people battling addiction and mental health problems, will close on October 30 with the loss of 16 jobs.

The Jericho Benedictine Society, which runs the Lothian Street home, is now working with the city council’s social work department to rehouse its 12 residents.

The 20-bed home is one of several across the UK managed by the society, a Catholic order of monks based in Paisley which works with people suffering from alcohol or drug problems or those battling mental health issues.

Brother Patrick Mullen, a trustee of the society, confirmed that “about 16” staff members would be made redundant when the centre closes due to a shortage of residents prepared to take up the service.

He said: “It’s just not getting enough numbers to justify the cost. This is a 20-bed unit but we are down to 12 [residents] and we can’t sustain that. We have been there since 1989 when we started helping rough sleepers, but need has fallen away for our services and we need a high occupancy level.

“We are mainly supported by the local authority who have been really helpful and supportive but the numbers are not arriving.

“We need an occupancy level of 90 per cent to be sustainable.

“It’s a shame and it has been a privilege to work there but we are there to meet a need and that need isn’t there to justify keeping the place going.”

The vast majority of Jericho House’s residents are vulnerable adults referred there by the city council, which has also provided financial support.

But while the council has been continuing to refer the people to the service, it is understood that many are choosing not to take up the offer.

Brother Mullen said the declining number of residents was caused by several factors, including a growth in similar services elsewhere and alternative forms of accommodation such as hostels opening up elsewhere being preferred in some cases.

He added that some people preferred to live on the streets, in hostels or in friends’ accommodation to a “residential setting”.

The home runs abstinence-based recovery programmes which include group work, one-to-one sessions and counselling.

It also offers a family support group, parenting classes, core education skills, plus leisure and sports activities including drama-based therapy.

Councillor Ricky Henderson, health, social care and housing leader, said: “Jericho House provides an excellent service to people with complex needs, and its closure will be a loss.

“We are assessing the care needs of the residents and will work with other agencies to find alternative accommodation and support for them.”

Brother Mullen added: “We are working hand in hand with the social work department to get the residents referred.”