Andy Brown, Jamie Lucas and Francis Bone in the purpose-built kitchen. Pictures: Paul Tibbs

King’s Lynn charity for the homeless, the Purfleet Trust has opened the doors of its new premises and Your Local Paper has been given a guided tour.

The charity has taken over the former Red Cross building in Austin Fields, which has been renamed Pathways House, and the building has been completely refurbished to provide a wide range of services for its clients.

The hub of the building is the open plan health and welfare centre, built around the purpose-built kitchen  where kitchen team leader Francis Bone and his team serve breakfast and a three-course lunch every day using donations from a number of shops and restaurants. Mr Bone also plans to give cookery lessons to clients and to extend the choices to include an a la carte menu.

He said: “The new building is lovely. It’s purpose-built and it will inspire. I look forward to coming to work every day. If I can help someone or empower someone that’s brilliant.”

The kitchen is surrounded by a dining area which can seat 24 and tables where clients can relax and take part in a range of activities on offer. Clients play chess with volunteers or sit and chat while doing art or crafts.

There is a treatment room where foot care professionals and nurses can deal with medical issues, also showers, a laundry room, lockers for clients to store their possessions and private rooms for counselling.

The charity’s complex needs team is on hand to work with clients with mental health, drug and alcohol issues; and training and employment advisors help clients to build up their skills and apply for work.

There is also a housing team which helps clients find accommodation and the charity runs self-contained accommodation units, where they help people to learn to live independently.

Clients have access to a computer suite where they can apply for jobs or benefits or keep in touch with friends and family. 

One client said: “It’s awesome here. I was homeless for about a month, sofa surfing. The Purfleet Trust has saved my life, it has built me back up.”

Some clients go on to become volunteers so they can give something back to say thank you for the help they have received.

Karen Scoles is a volunteer maitre de, waitressing and taking food orders. She said: “When I was homeless I came to them for some help. I was living on my daughter’s bedroom floor. The Purfleet Trust put me in supported housing and now I’ve got a bungalow.

“I do cleaning here, I help in the kitchen and I’m hoping to do an NVQ in catering and hospitality. I think it’s fantastic here.”

Other volunteers sort out donations of toiletries and clothing, man the reception, carry out administration tasks and answer the phone.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact the Purfleet Trust on 01553 767829.