Sunderland orphanage reopens as new centre

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FULLY restored and open for business, these are the first pictures of Sunderland’s Old Orphanage.

The Grade II-listed building in Hendon has been renovated as part of a £4.5million project, which has also built a separate 38-apartment housing scheme.

Heritage Lottery Funding, totalling £1.5million, help fund the refurbishment and create five units for community groups and businesses.

The Old Orphanage, on the edge of the Town Moor, once housed dozens of seafarers’ sons, then later community groups, but fell into disrepair after closing down in the 1990s.

Part of the Victorian building will be used by the East Community Association, which was once based in the former institution.

A neighbouring three-storey building known as Seafarer’s Way will house people with memory loss, Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Historical photographs of Old Sunderland, sourced by the city’s Antiquarian Society, line the walls of the apartment block,which has been specially designed to cater to people with dementia and their partners.

A hair salon, restaurant, activity room and landscaped gardens for residents all have a 1950s theme, which experts say helps with “recognition, remembrance and way-finding in older people”.

Housing and Care 21 has recruited 12 staff to provide round-the-clock support to residents, who will have their own apartments.

Seafarers’ Way joins four existing extra-care schemes in Sunderland, with another five due to be built this year, as part of the authority’s bid to keep older people independent. The scheme came about after a private investor bought the land and building in 2010 and the council was able to attract millions of pounds in external funding.

Construction work at the site began early last year and the first residents are due to move in next month, with an official opening ceremony in December.