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CHESS bid for council checkmate over charity homeless centre

By Essex Chronicle  |  Posted: August 09, 2012

LIFE SKILLS: Rob Saggs with Jacqui Parker and Jan Guy at St Mark's Hall

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HOMELESS charity CHESS is hoping to secure planning consent to reoccupy its old day centre.

The Chelmsford-based organisation had to move out of St Mark's Hall in Cottage Place a year ago after their lease came to an end.

But after being approached by the new owners of the site they are hopeful to use the hall to house the homeless again – this time with special training facilities and 19 beds.

Operational Manager of CHESS, Rob Saggs said: "We are really hoping that the application goes through, it would really help the homeless of Chelmsford.

"The new application will not turn St Mark's Hall into a drop-in day centre like it was before. It will be a space where we can help develop people's life skills, giving them I.T. help."

When the Association for the Deaf sold the building last year a new developer bought the building and has offered to turn it into a space CHESS can use.

"When our lease ended we looked into buying the day centre but didn't have the funds," said Mr Saggs. "The building was also in a bit of a state and would have costs us a lot to fix up.

"This building will be more sustainable for us. It will mean we can have our office in with the 19 beds and mean we can offer those in need more support.

"The new developer has said that they will turn the space into something sustainable for us."

The night shelter in George Street will be kept by the charity and help provide a move-on service.

Mr Saggs said: "We don't just offer beds for a night we are about turning peoples lives around – allowing them to live much more independently but with continued support.

"It will be great to have an extra space for the move-on step of our service and since getting a £50,000 grant from the government last year we have managed to move 11 people into their own rooms since April.

"We have struggled in the past with moving people on without having any beds to do so. This will create extra space for more people."

The charity will find out whether the planning application is accepted by Chelmsford City Council in September.

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