Since 2002, our recovery hostel has been a core part of SCT. To commemorate twenty years since our doors opened, we spoke to staff and residents about what Acorn House does and what it means to them.
Acorn House is our 16-bed hostel offering a therapeutic programme for homeless men.
Based in Shoreditch, the hostel sits above our Training and Development centre, next door to our two social enterprises, and it’s surrounded by our community gardens.
On site we have trained counsellors, support workers, a therapeutic team, and residents are guided through the rest of SCT’s services in the local area. Acorn House itself specialises in addiction recovery. The therapeutic programme offers abstinence-based treatment, including group and one-to-one counselling, where residents are encouraged to work through traumas and challenging behaviours. We work with hard-to-reach clients with complex needs, often those with a history of street homelessness.
We asked Steve, our Therapeutic Programme Manager, to describe Acorn House’s approach to recovery.
“Because we work with people who have histories of homelessness, our core ethos is to build a secure and friendly community. We see our programme as an attempt to create a secure base for people who often haven’t experienced that before.”
“SCT’s approach is holistic, so we support people in every aspect of their life. Residents at Acorn House, alongside therapy and addiction counselling, get involved in things like Training and Development downstairs, the gardens outside, the social enterprises next door, and we have key workers here who provide support with practical things like benefits and healthcare.
Even once people move out, they know they still have this extended family in some way.”
Something which sets Acorn House apart is providing housing and addiction support at the same time.
“The combination of this support is empowering here because you can come and stay here, this is your home, and you’ll also get the support you need with addiction recovery.” says Steve.
When a resident is ready to leave Acorn House, we help people move on to their next home, whether to friends and family, independent living, or to our supported housing projects.
Nancy, who manages the Supported Housing team, says it’s valuable to keep the community support available for people after they leave.
“Over the past twenty years we’ve had people here from all around the world, all over the country, when former residents join our meetings it’s uplifting for current residents to see how well they have done. And now our support workers are writing references for former residents, seeing them get jobs and buy houses, that’s really nice to see.”
Our residents come to Acorn House from all kinds of backgrounds – unlike many of the hostels in London, we don’t require a local connection or a funding panel to admit someone, and we accept self-referrals.
Jay* came to us by himself after a friend at AA told him about what we do. At the time, he had been feeling suicidal and he was struggling with drinking, drug addiction, and a lack of housing options.
“If I’d have carried on the way I had, my children would have been burying me, I knew that very well.”
He came for an assessment on a Friday, and moved in the following Monday. Since then he’s learnt a lot in group and one-to-one sessions.
“In the groups we talk about relationships, boundaries, anger, all sorts. Group sessions are amazing, I’ve learnt so much about myself through the groups. Working through things like deflection, childhood, I just understand myself much more now.”
Having a recovery hostel right in the centre of Shoreditch is challenging at times – Jay tells us on Friday and Saturday nights it can feel strange to be surrounded by pubs and clubs.
“But the thing is I feel like we’d much rather be in here. So it’s sort of nice then, to have that outside, when you know you prefer it in the house.”
Nancy says the silver lining is what a good community feeling there is in the area, with our social enterprises, Restoration Station and Paper and Cup, so nearby, and the gardens, the church next door, and meetings nearby. As Steve said, the team at Acorn House have worked hard to ensure a safe and secure community here for people in recovery.
“Just think, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”
The last couple of years have been very challenging for staff, volunteers, and residents, but we are all feeling hopeful about the future. We’re currently reaching out to new people and welcoming new residents into Acorn House. And we have an open day soon, which you can sign up for here.
If you’re thinking of joining us, or referring someone, the first step is to get an assessment with our team. You can do that by clicking here – fill out the referral form for yourself or a client and send it to us, then we’ll get in touch about an assessment.
The team at Acorn House say,
“If you’ve had enough of using drugs and alcohol, I think we provide a comprehensive treatment programme that will allow you to understand your addiction better and find new ways of coping. We work hard to create an environment that’s both therapeutic and kind at the same time, where everyone is treated with dignity, respect, and warmth. It’s an opportunity to really turn things around and get your life back.”
“If you’re thinking about it, just come in for an assessment, it’s your chance to find out more about us as well.”
And Jay says,
“It’s amazing, give yourself a chance. I’ve never been to a rehab before, here they give you just enough rope, if I want to leave right now and go and drink I could, but I don’t. Acorn has given me the choice. They’ve given me the freedom of having that choice.”
“Our stories say it all, do it for yourself.”
* Names and identities may be altered for confidentiality