X Factor star opens hostel for homeless

Joe McElderry officially opened the new Sunderland Centrepoint on Dundas Street.
Joe McElderry officially opened the new Sunderland Centrepoint on Dundas Street.
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VIP guests arrived for the opening of a controversial £1.3million homeless hostel for young people.

Black Cat legend Jim Montgomery and X-Factor star Joe McElderry helped celebrate the official launch of the Centrepoint hostel in Monkwearmouth yesterday.

The guests were shown around the building which has taken five years to complete.

They were there to show their support for the charity which aims to help homeless people aged 16 to 25 learn key life skills.

Joe, 20, said: “Centrepoint is fantastic and they highlight an important cause that needs to be recognised.

“This new unit will help give people, that are in the same age bracket as me, a good foundation and will teach them skills that I feel I have taken for granted.

“It gives them a place to make good friends that they will consider family.”

The new hostel, which is Centrepoint’s first purpose-built accommodation for homeless young people, has 18 ensuite rooms and four fully-equipped kitchens shared by residents.

Even with 23 different Centrepoint hostels, more than 80,000 young people will still experience homelessness in the UK over a single year.

Penny Francis, chairman of the board, said: “We aim to give those who come to us the skills to help them succeed in life.

“We offer a lot of help and support with important basic life skills such as reading and writing as well as the different ways of getting into work.  

“Four in every five people we help will leave here with job prospects which we are very happy about.”

The complex also features a training kitchen, which was part-funded by The Sir Tom Cowie Charitable Trust as well as a multimedia suite, where some of the region’s most vulnerable young people can get help to access education and employment.

Chief executive Seyi Obakin said: “This is a much better facility than the previous Mowbray Road site.

“It will really give young people a chance to turn their lives around and it’s when you treat them with respect and put them on the same level as everyone else, that’s when you get the best out of them.”

The move from their original premises in Mowbray Road was controversial as there had been a number of protests ahead of the planning due to levels of crime, antisocial behaviour and other problems in the Monkwearmouth area.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho