'I'm like a kid at Christmas': Rough sleeper's delight at moving into new home

new homes in Reading
Formerly homeless, Jamie looks out of the window of his new modular home in Reading. Credit: Jo Lenny/St Mungo's

A former rough sleeper has told ITV Meridian he feels 'like a kid at Christmas' after being able to move into a new home in time for the festive period.

Jamie, 35, has lived on and off the streets for the last 20 years in London and Reading and was one of the first to move into the new community.

He's one of forty homeless people who are now able to spend Christmas in new modular homes after the completion of a new scheme in Reading. Each facility is equipped with a kettle, microwave, toaster, tv, crockery and bedding and private bathroom.

A laundry room with washing machines also allows residents to live independently on the site in Caversham Road, which opened earlier this month.

Report by ITV Meridian's Heather Edwards

Jamie said: “My first night was lovely; I have heating I can control, a proper bed, a fridge. This is a dream for all homeless people.

"It was a weird feeling being inside after so long sleeping outside. Every borough should have a project like this. I’m like a kid at Christmas. This is the start of my life, welcome to paradise.”

The homes benefit from on-site staff provided by Reading Borough Council’s partner, homelessness charity St Mungo’s.

Case workers are available 24/7 to provide wraparound intensive support for residents, helping with any issues that may be troubling residents at any time of day or night. 

Reading Borough Council’s lead member for housing Ellie Emberson said: “It is so meaningful that we are able to give 40 residents who have been rough sleeping around Reading the opportunity to have their own place with valuable on-site support.

"We know homelessness needs a partnership approach, through our joint working with St Mungo's we are offering high-quality transitional housing with the needed support.

"This is an innovative way to tackle homelessness with new residents already sharing positive comments about the opportunity this presents them by getting off the street.”

Abbey ward councillors (top to bottom) Mohammed Ayub, Karen Rowland and Tony Page at the site Credit: Jo Lenny / St Mungo’s

Matt Rudd, regional head at St Mungo’s, said: “We are very excited to launch this project. The site is looking really nice and will be a community for people to get back on their feet.

"The site is managed 24/7, with laundry facilities, a recycling area and some raised beds where we hope residents will fully utilise and grow their own vegetables.

"We have high hopes for the success of the Caversham Road site.”

If you are living on the streets, and need advice and support you can contact the following organisations:

Reading Borough Council Housing Advice Service

Launchpad Reading

St Mungo's

Street Support Network

New Beginnings