Homeless centre reaches for the sky

 The Cardinal Hume centre in Westminster announced imaginative expansion plans after their annual Thanksgiving Mass on the Candlemas vigil last Thursday. The project, which provides accommodation, ongoing support and job training for hundreds of young homeless people, has submitted plans to the local council to add an extra floor to the roof of their building in Horseferry Road. Provided planning permission is received, the new space will be used for bedsitter accommodation. Chair Richard Owen said he was optimistic that the plans would be given the go-ahead. Many other buildings in the area had already built skywards, he explained. As Westminster property prices are among the highest in the country, this solution will be a fraction of the cost of buying another building in the area. Mass was celebrated by Mgr George Stack, administrator of Westminster cathedral. Speaking at the Mass, Catherine Brooker, fundraiser for the centre, said that they had enjoyed a very successful year. Just two weeks ago they launched their website, which was put together by volunteers and has already won a design award. Richard Owen said many young people who arrived at the centre homeless and unemployed have moved on to permanent accommodation, higher education and jobs. "One of the important things about the work we do here, is that it's progressive, not just palliative," he said. In the past four years, the number of Cardinal Hume centre supporters has grown from 40,000 to 170,000.

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