WORK is underway on a project to convert unused offices into apartments to enable care leavers to "begin their adult lives".

Housing Group Torus, is working with St Helens Borough Council (SHBC) on the development which will see seven apartments created for young people to help them prepare for leaving care and give them the skills needed to sustain a tenancy and live independently.

The £450,000 project, which started on site last month, received funding from a Department for Education grant awarded to St Helens Children's Services. 

It will see the former housing office on Millersdale in Clock Face, which has been empty since 2021, transformed and extensively remodelled to create high-quality, self-contained apartments which will offer all residents access to 24/7 on-site support provided by St Helens Children’s Services.

St Helens Star: Work on the development has startedWork on the development has started (Image: Torus)

The new scheme - which will be named following consultation with care leavers - will provide six apartments, each with an ensuite and a mini kitchen, and one special training flat, with a full kitchen and separate entrance, in addition to a connecting entrance to the scheme.

READ > Development to bring open market and shared ownership housing 

Support from social care professionals will give care leavers, aged 16-18, an opportunity to create their own homes and prepare for the future to live independent, fulfilling lives.

Homes will provide 'invaluable support' to care leavers

Torus' supported housing commissioning project manager, Anna Jameson, said: “Torus is committed to giving people a safe place to live and a home to be proud of.

“We are thrilled to continue working with St Helens Council and its children's services to develop our partnership further and build these important and much-needed homes. We very much look forward to continuing this collaborative approach on future projects.

“We are excited to get started so we can hand over the development to the council as quickly as possible, so the young people leaving care can access the invaluable support these great homes will provide and begin their new, adult, lives."

Meanwhile, the scheme will also feature a self-contained support staff apartment, office space, communal living space with dining, cooking and lounge areas, enclosed garden space, laundry facilities, dedicated off-street parking and external CCTV.

St Helens Star: A CGI of the Millersdale projectA CGI of the Millersdale project (Image: Torus)

Councillor Nova Charlton, St Helens Borough Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, added: “We have a commitment to support our young people leaving care through the transition, ensuring they have the best possible start in their adult life, with Ofsted rating us Outstanding in this regard.

“Improving the standards of care for families and young people is a key priority for us and the support from our partners like Torus in this development of new homes for care leavers is building better opportunities for them.”

The apartments will be leased back to St Helens Council and the seven apartments will offer care leavers, currently living in children’s homes, a two-year fixed tenancy, acting as a stepping-stone to a permanent home.

The works which started in March, are being carried out by HMS in partnership with John McCall Architects and Howard Lawrenson Structural Engineer.

St Helens Star: Another CGI of the developmentAnother CGI of the development (Image: Torus)

Paul Worthington, Managing Director at HMS, added: "Projects such as this is something everyone at HMS is incredibly passionate about as we know the acute difference homes like the apartments, we are refurbishing at Millersdale will make to the young people who will eventually call them home.

“Millersdale will become a thriving, supportive community that will truly mark the start of these young people's adult lives and the entire team is beyond proud to be starting on site and I know, from speaking to the team, just how excited everyone is to do a fantastic job for not only its future residents, but for our partners at St Helens Council and Torus."