The Bristol Wing, YMCA Bristol
The Bristol Wing opened in Jan 2018 – a boutique hostel in the centre of Bristol with 99 bed spaces in a variety of rooms from dorms to family en-suites. The team at Bristol, led by Ben Silvey, raised funds and had lottery funding to develop the old Police HQ into a fabulous new on trend boutique hostel targeting the discerning traveller and families and groups who wanted to stay in reasonably priced accommodation, with comfy beds, crisp white sheets, a cool Bristol vibe and a location central to all of the city – they were confident they were on to a winner.
But this amazing hostel has a even better ethos – run as a commercial enterprise the money raised for 90 of the bed spaces is used to support work with homeless young people. 9 bed spaces in single rooms are kept free every night to offer to those in high need. As the project is not reliant on funding the housing team can work with those in real need and take a young person off the street into a safe place immediately following their own assessments and protocols. Ben was also successful in gaining further funding to appoint 2 part time chaplains to work alongside the general housing team to offer support to everyone who stays at the hostel but especially to work with the young people. Some young people may only stay a night or two, some a little longer but the aim is to move them onto something more permanent as soon as possible. The project also provides them with access to bathrooms, clean clothes, IT, communal cooking areas with food provided and communal relaxation space.
We wanted these young people to feel a sense of belonging in the hostel and to be a part of it without stigma or embarrassment. We have also found that our commercial visitors love the fact their stay is supporting young people at a time of need. Alongside this, initially when trying to raise funding, we found the local community really backed the project and gave time, energy and money to support us in developing the hostel.
We are really proud of what we have produced in Bristol – a conscious and creative city growing in popularity. We have tapped into a gap in the market and hit a spot where people want a great place to stay but like the fact they are helping others at the same time.
In designing the refurb we wanted to represent the heritage of the building and acknowledge the quirkiness of Bristol – so we employed a street artist to do a lot of the art work, a local marketing company designed our logo and use of the birds throughout the building and we endeavoured to really bring the building back to life whilst respecting its past. We even restored the old cage lift!
The project is financially viable and is actively working with vulnerable young people who would otherwise be on the streets of Bristol – every night of the week!