First Base: 1984 – Present

BHT First Base Day Centre

1984 – PresentFirst Base had become quite dilapidated over the years and did not really provide the space or the privacy that was needed to work with our clients effectively.

In 2008 BHT received funding from the Homes and Communities Agency’s (HCA) Places of Change Programme in partnership with Brighton and Hove City Council to renovate First Base to update the facilities make it a modern, fit for purpose resource base for people who are rough sleeping and insecurely housed in the city.

Due to the building being grade 2* listed the renovation needed to be sensitively handled to make the very best use of the space and include contemporary facilities whilst ensuring the wonderful original features were protected.

BHT appointed Camillin Denny Architects to lead the project because of the company’s specialist expertise in combining conservation with modern features. Cheesmur building contractors were appointed to carry out the building work.

The renovation provided the space for us to improve our services which cover healthcare, work and learning, fitness, arts and community activities. The development included a training kitchen to prepare nutritious meals, new toilet, shower and laundry facilities, offices, medical rooms and consultation rooms.

The kitchen will also be used by BHT’s catering business Dine which provides training and work experience to people who’ve experienced homelessness and long term unemployment. As a social enterprise all Dine’s profits are invested back into projects to support and empower vulnerable people.

thumbnail_NH_W92H115People who’ve lost their home need much more than a bed for the night and this new building will go a long way to break the destructive cycle of homelessness with fantastic training and employment opportunities. We will continue to work with our clients and the wider community to make First Base a cornerstone in the drive to empower some of the city’s most vulnerable people.

Nikki Homewood, BHT Director of Homelessness & Complex Needs

Alterations to the building in both the 1970s and 80s compromised the original architecture and we will be restoring these features as well as incorporating the modern facilities BHT need.

First Base will be a fully functional new centre that combines the attributes of both the original Adams style interior with high quality contemporary features.

Chloe Hobden, Camillin Denny Architects

Heritage Lottery Fund Grant 2010

Heritage Lottery Fund Logo

In 2010 First Base was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant to help restore the hidden architectural details of our building.

The project complemented the major refurbishment currently taking place at First Base, funded by the HCA (Homes and Communities Agency) and in partnership with Brighton and Hove City Council, to provide new and improved facilities to service users.

The First Base Heritage Project will give service users a wealth of exciting opportunities to learn not only about the social heritage of the building they visit every day, but also the chance to gain skills by taking part in construction and conservation activities and master classes with conservation professionals, including hands-on sessions such as helping to restore the pillars and friezes and re-moulding and plastering damaged areas.

Stuart McLeod, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the South East

thumbnail_NH_W92H115We are thrilled to have the chance to involve service users in the restoration of the building to its former glory. We believe the research project will discover fascinating stories and facts about the building and about homelessness over the past 250 years, and will provide a wonderful opportunity to explore this hidden heritage.

Nikki Homewood, BHT Director of Homelessness & Complex Needs


The enormous transformation process of the renovation was documented in a series of photographs taken by Richard Rowland

In addition to historic restoration work on the building the funding will also allow us to work with clients on all aspects of the opportunity to get involved in an education and activity programme that will bring to life the history of St Stephen’s Hall through historical research and practical conservation workshops, while investigating the history of homelessness and the welfare state in Brighton.

Post-renovation images


The Grand Re-Opening


On 16 June 2011 First Base re-opened its doors, more than a year after being closed for the major refurbishment.

The formal re-opening was a great success, with 130 people in attendance, including a significant turnout from Brighton & Hove City Council and the local voluntary and community sector. Speeches were made by council leader Bill Randall, Conservative councillor Mary Mears, Lord Lieutenant Peter Field, and Richard Cunningham from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).


There was a real buzz as people entered St Stephen’s Hall, a Grade II* listed building, and were greeted by the grandness of the completed restoration work. Those familiar with how the building looked before were genuinely surprised by what had been achieved both aesthetically and facilities-wise. Dine! – BHT’s catering social enterprise – put the building’s new kitchen to the test and produced an impressive spread for the evening.

The HCA invested £590,000 in to the First Base Project through the Places of Change Programme.

The HCA, through the Places of Change Programme, is proud to have supported BHT in bringing this historic building back into use and creating state of the art facilities that will really improve the lives of some of society’s most disadvantaged people.

Richard Cunningham, HCA Programme Manager

Brighton Housing Trust has delivered a stunning renovation of St Stephen’s Hall, which brilliantly demonstrates how an historic building can be brought back to life to deliver essential modern-day services. We’re delighted to be a supporter of this ground-breaking project.

Stuart McLeod, head of the HCA in the South East

thumbnail_BR_W92H115This is a magnificent refurbishment and I’m delighted the see the building being put to such good use. We fully support BHT and are committed to continuing to work in partnership with them to help tackle inequality in our city.

Councillor Bill Randall, Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council

Sussex Heritage Trust Award 2012

sussex heritage trust award presentation_W600

In 2012 First Base Day centre was announced as a winner of the 2012 Sussex Heritage Trust Award 2012 for the renovation of the building.

Sussex Heritage Trust is a Registered Charity established in 1977 to preserve, improve and encourage the appreciation of the architectural and natural heritage of Sussex. The annual Sussex Heritage Trust Awards are designed to recognise and reward high quality conservation, restoration and good design of newly built projects and encourage the use of traditional skills and crafts.

Our building won the award for Public & Community Project. Winning projects receive a hand crafted slate plaque to be attached to the building.

The introduction of the two free standing pods within the former chapel and ball room was an imaginative design solution. Not only do the pods provide a very effective solution to the brief, they also allow the existing renovated Adams style space to be experienced in all its glory.

Sussex Heritage Trust Awards 2012 Judges

thumbnail_NH_W92H115We are so pleased that CDMS Partners Ltd entered First Base for this award. The refurbishment of St Stephen’s Hall is one of brilliance and has made an incredible difference to how we use the space.

The redevelopment included a training kitchen facility, new showers and toilets, medical rooms and consultation rooms; all of which have made a huge difference to how we are able to work with vulnerable people to help them to move on from homelessness and towards a more positive future.

Nikki Homewood, BHT Director of Homelessness Services