Shelter from the Storm secures new home on Archway estate

Shelter Secured: Employees, volunteers and guests at Shelter from the Storm. Photograph: Mary Stephenson.

A homeless shelter has won permission to set up a new premises in a former supermarket on an Islington estate.

Over 100 people attended the 6 September meeting of Islington Council’s planning sub-committee which granted charity Shelter from the Storm’s (SFTS) application to convert the premises near Archway station into a community cafe and night shelter.

The charity’s plans received 124 letters of support, including from Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, as well as 96 objections from neighbouring residents on the estate, who had raised concerns around potential anti-social behaviour and drug and alcohol use.

Tempers frayed during the standing-room-only meeting, with objectors complaining they had not had a chance to prepare a unified case against the plans.

SFTS co-founder Sheila Scott strove to assure the committee and objectors that the charity would not have a negative impact on their new neighbourhood.

She said: “We work very hard to find something useful and productive for people to do, and we help people move on and up in a fruitful way for them.

“The majority of our guests are people who have lost their homes in the private rented sector.

“We don’t have people just turning up suddenly at night. It’s just not who we are. Our guests leave every morning at 8am.

“Almost a third of our guests will be in employment. We have people in sixth form college, and we also find courses for peole to do.”

SFTS saw 159 of its guests move into permanent accommodation last year, with 75 supported into employment.

In the year to March 2017, the charity served up 18,000 dinners.

The charity’s application was granted by the committee, on condition that a  review take place in a year’s time in view of residents’ objections.

Cllr Phil Graham (Lab, Bunhill), said: “In the current climate, we are all one step away from losing our homes.

“People about to lose their homes are the type of people being helped out by Shelter from the Storm.”