NEW accommodation for homeless people was officially opened by the Bishop of Salisbury this morning.

The Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam blessed and opened St Paul’s Homes on Fisherton Street, Salisbury, where homeless people will be able to live independently and start rebuilding their lives.

The Grade II listed building was constructed in 1863 to provide homes for “women of limited income”.

It was converted into 12 flats in the 1960s but soaring costs forced the closure of the building almost 10 years ago.

Last year a campaign to raise the £700,000 needed to re-open St Paul’s Homes got underway.

Salisbury Trust for the Homeless organised a local appeal which raised £250,000 towards the cost with the remainder coming from grants, and funding from the Homes and Communities Agency.

“In what has not been the best of weeks for the Church of England it is nice to come back to something good,” Right Reverend Holtam told the project’s supporters - including John Glen MP and Salisbury’s mayor John Collier - and St Paul’s Homes residents at the ceremony held in St Paul’s Church Centre.

“Homelessness is often a hidden problem but it is here, even in Salisbury.

“This is not about a different kind of people it is about all of us.

“Homelessness affects a large proportion of our population and can happen at any time.

“This idea has taken an old building and created something new to help people move forward.”

Each flat has a bedroom, living room, separate kitchen and bathroom and significant work was carried out to the roof and floors of the old building.

Bournemouth Churches Housing Association worked in partnership with Salisbury Trust for the Homeless on the project.

“St Paul’s Homes now meet a key need providing more suitable and sustainable housing for people in Salisbury who have experience homelessness and are ready to move on with independent living,” said Brian Swann, the association’s director of operations and partnerships.

“We really hope the residents of these flats will create a community there, helping people to further develop their skills, regain their self esteem and move forward with their lives.”