A HOMELESSNESS charity is set to create seven new rooms above one of its charity shops in Colchester.

Emmaus Colchester will be creating the bedrooms, for use by service users, in units above its Home Shop, in High Street.

The first-floor conversion is being funded through the charity's social enterprise schemes with an additional £100,000 grant from Emmaus UK.

Once complete, the development will include a communal lounge and kitchen as well as seven en-suite bedrooms.

Chief executive officer Denise King said: "It’s a much needed improvement to our property and allows us to utilise the first floor, giving our companions a home and a place to work.

“We already have 24 rooms in the community house on Magdalen Street, but this new space is for those companions who require greater privacy, more independence, and for those who are getting ready to move on.”

The Home Store will be temporarily closed whilst work takes place on the first floor conversion.

Stock will be moved to the neighbouring Emporium store and the charity's other shops in Magdalen Street and Crouch Street will remain open over this time.

Trustee Charles Ince said: “It has been the aim of the trustees for some while to increase the number of permanent companion rooms we are able to offer.

“Whilst we have previously rented additional rooms, the opportunity to create seven new and permanent rooms with associated facilities within premises we are fortunate enough to own makes a very positive statement of our commitment to further alleviating local homelessness.

"This scheme will also provide us with the opportunity to consolidate and improve our retail offer at the east end of the High Street.”

Emmaus Colchester provides support for residents who have previously experienced homelessness.

The group is one of 29 in the UK and provides a home and support to more than 800 people.