CRASH Completed Project Offers Better Opportunities for Young Homeless

Last week a major new £3.7 million residential and training unit for young homeless people opened its doors in Aldershot following a 16-month build programme with the help of technical support, free materials and a grant from construction and property homelessness charity CRASH.

Step by Step, based in Aldershot, has been working with young people for almost 20 years and aims to empower the homeless and those facing adversity to achieve their full potential. Originally founded to provide temporary accommodation for homeless youngsters, the charity has expanded significantly and now has 12 different services which support hundreds of young people every year.


Clients progress through a four-step accommodation service where each step offers greater independence as they demonstrate their willingness to take more responsibility for their lives and those around them. Alongside this, Step by Step provides training in life skills to enable the young people to regain their self-esteem, stabilise their sometimes chaotic lifestyles and enter back into the community with a job or a college place or training placement.

Located on a brownfield site close to Aldershot town centre, the building provides accommodation over three floors, including 32 bedrooms, communal kitchen, dining and laundry facilities, training rooms and administrative offices. The new building was completed with the help of a £20,000 grant from CRASH and literally a ‘roof over their heads’ in the form of a new roof designed and built for free by CRASH patron partner Bauder. Bauder and their approved contractor, Warner Contracting Ltd, worked closely with the project team to improve the roof upstand design ensuring the 400 square metre flat roof offers the lowest maintenance solution going forward.

“We are delighted to have been involved with the Step by Step project by contributing the roof element to provide shelter and support to homeless young people. We put together a design and waterproofing package that not only took in to account the current structure and thermal performance, but also ensured the lowest maintenance solution.” Andrew Mackenzie, Managing Director, Bauder.

Additional free materials were given by CRASH patron partners Burdens and Lafarge as well as technical expertise from CRASH supporter Mansell.
“The new building is a significant milestone for us, however it is the people CRASH bring together from the construction and property industry, and the value of their professional expertise and free materials that has given us a much better building allowing us to sustain our mission of transforming young lives.” Amanda Dubarry, Chief Executive, Step by Step

Step by Step's opening in October was a significant milestone in the their history and over 130 guests including individuals and organisations who had contributed to the building, the High Sheriff of Hampshire, the Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire, the Mayor of Rushmoor, the Mayor of Waverley and Bridget Crowther, the charity’s founder were in attendance.

Mike Brown, Chairman of Step by Step, welcoming the guests, emphasised that the development had been an extremely effective partnership, with many different organisations and individuals working together to achieve a shared objective. "Our magnificent new facility now provides opportunities which are already working to transform the lives of around 850 young people a year from the local community, enabling them to move from a position of surviving to one of positive development."


Step by Step are already seeing the benefits. In addition to the obvious improvement in facilities, the charity are now offering additional programmes and activities at a reduced cost due to efficiencies resulting from the organisation of the new building. The ground floor houses Step by Step's training and advisory services, which are open to all young people seeking advice or support with a wide range of issues. Interview rooms and staff offices occupy the first floor and the two top storeys house the charity's Steps 1 and 2 accommodation services. Step 1 is for those in most need of support and has 15 single en-suite study-bedrooms and a shared kitchen/dining area with facilities for cookery demonstrations. Clients in Step 2 occupy the top floor, which is organised into four clusters of four flats, each with its own kitchen and dining area. Step 2 clients enjoy greater independence but support is readily available if required.

Izzy’s story

At 16 I became homeless after a family breakdown. I had nowhere to go which meant I was living on the streets for over three weeks. It was a terrifying time for me, I had sores on my hands and I felt worried and anxious all the time, always looking over my shoulder and never able to sleep. My family support worker introduced me to Step by Step.

When I came to visit everyone was very helpful. Talking to some of the other residents there, I started to feel welcome and that it could be a place where I could feel safe again. I decided to move into the first stage accommodation. We had to do lots of tasks. One of my favourites was cooking. We took it in turns to cook which was brilliant because I did not have any cooking skills, and it gave me the basic life skills I needed to gain independence. I started college but I found it very difficult to concentrate because it was a busy, sometimes noisy, environment. Step by Step gave me the motivation to work harder and move on to the next accommodation stage. After that I progressed quite quickly and I am now waiting to hear back about a university place. I have had a lot of support from Step by Step and I am so grateful, for without them who knows where I would be now.

For more information, please visit the CRASH charity website