The Bristol Wing has a long and unique history. The site dates back to the 13th Century and has been home to a prison, the Chief Constable, a circus troupe and a group of artists and now we have made it our home.

We first took the building over in 2013 The original challenge we set ourselves was to provide beds for homeless young people without having to rely on government funding – we therefore came up with the model of a commercial project supporting a charitable one.

We also wanted the accommodation for these vulnerable young people to not be stigmatising but instead inclusive and welcoming – which we have achieved. We achieved this by raising £2.5m to buy and refurbish a derelict grade II listed building in Bristol city centre, with the support of a range of funders (from an individual giving us £5 to the heritage lottery giving £900,000 and everything in between).

So we purchased the old Police HQ in the centre of Bristol with the sole aim of turning it in to a cool hostel for our cool city and a great community to be part of – even if it is only for one night!

But as times change, so must we. In 2020, we closed our doors to the public, but we didn’t want to stop our social mission. The Wing was sublet to Bristol based homeless charity, St. Mungo’s. During the pandemic, our building provided safe housing for the street homelessness.

We now have the building back and have worked hard to renovate the Wing into a fresh, lively hostel that champions our unique community. The Bristol Wing is now fully a commercial hostel, and while we don’t offer supported housing within the building itself, any surplus funds go directly towards our wider charity, YMCA Brunel Group, so we can carry on our mission to support young people at risk.