24 May 2016

The refurbishment of YMCA Surbiton continues apace and is over halfway through, with 67 newly refurbished single bedrooms, six twin bedrooms with kitchenettes and three fully accessible bedrooms, all with en-suite bathrooms. The rooms are finished to a high standard with new electrics and water services, plus a neutral decor.  Plans for the communal kitchens have been finalised and work will start very soon to install them.The most difficult phase of this refurbishment was finding space as people were moved around, says Daniel Hosier, Refurbishment Project Co-ordinator. “We had to clear three staff offices and three storerooms, and find somewhere for the staff and all the stuff to go. It was challenging, but staff and residents have learned they need to fit in with each other.”

The success of Phase 8 has been the surprising lack of confusion and problems with the changing room swaps in the gym, and the new route up the fire escape to the studios. However Daniel anticipates that it won’t be all plain sailing with Phase 9. “With regards to the residents, the next phase will be tricky as they move out of old rooms to new rooms. We usually have a residents’ waiting list toward the end of each phase  as we’re unable to take new residents during that time while we move everyone around, so that can sometimes be difficult, ” he explains.

Apart from the builders coming and going with trolleys of equipment and materials, the biggest headache for staff and residents has been the fire alarm system. Whilst moving the heads of the old system, alarms have been frequently triggered as the equipment is old and brittle, and in turn this has triggered the new alarm system  – and cut off the main gas supply to the building too. Daniel explains that with the alarm going off frequently, there could be a tendency to be complacent and ignore it but he hopes not. “We need to be vigilant about the fire alarms, staff and residents need to always follow procedure in case it’s a real fire.”

Installation of the first three communal kitchens takes place soon and each will have space for a fridge freezer for each resident. Each resident will receive a set of cutlery and crockery, plus there will be some communal items  to share. The first three kitchens will be a trial, and residents will receive cookery lessons and instruction in basic hygiene, and health and safety from the Community Activities Team.

“Some people won’t have prepared food or switched on an oven for many years, and each kitchen will have CCTV to monitor how they are used and for dangers with fire,” says Daniel.

“We’re well over halfway now, so the worst of the building work is probably over for residents, the dust has been the biggest problem!”

So what do the residents think?

John Hart, 56, living in a refurbished single room
“I’ve been here since November 2015 and love my room. It’s light and airy, and suits me fine. Before I came here I was in Cardiff prison, so it feels good to have my own place. I have had the odd leak but that’s to be expected with any building work. I’m here most days, and just recently went on the Residential week to the Gower Peninsula, which was beautiful and I really enjoyed it.”



Wayne Miller, 52, living in a new double room

“I’ve been in the hostel for six years and moved into this double room four months ago with my two year old daughter Faye. I really like it as it has the space for her to play and I can cook her meals here, too. She is at nursery three days a week, so I get time to keep it clean and tidy. It feels like a proper home to me, especially as I have my own corridor. It’s quiet and safe, perfect really.”