A CHARITY for homeless families aims to start work on a delayed £3.9m residential centre later this year.
Save the Family, which supports 24 homeless families at Plas Bellin Hall, North Wales, hopes to set up a similar project at Cotton Hall Farm near Christleton, in Chester.
Permission is currently being sought to renew planning consent for the scheme, on the Grosvenor estate, would include 26 family units, educational and training facilities.
The site, suggested by the charity’s former patron, the Duchess of Westminster, gained permission three years ago but it has taken longer than anticipated to raise the necessary funds.
Chief executive Tim McLachlan said: “The principle is to replicate the Plas Bellin Hall site, our centre at Northop Hall where we support 24 homeless families from across North Wales and Cheshire.
“We want to have another centre in Chester so we can help even more families.”
Mr McLachlan said the Save the Family model aimed to keep families together who were experiencing difficulties, in a supported environment, rather than see children being taken into care.
The model had been lauded by among others, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.
“It’s cheaper than putting children into care and is far better in terms of outcomes for the individuals and for society,” added Mr McLachan, who said the charity, which has its headquarters and a charity shop in Chester, had featured on Newsnight, The One Show and the Daily Telegraph.
But Mr McLachan said there was a huge waiting list for places. Ideally, Save The Family would love to set up similar centres across the UK.
Speaking about the Chester centre, he added: “We would hope to start work later this year – that’s the plan.”