Thorntree Street 

Thorntree Street provides secure tenancies to older people (50+) who have had a history of rough sleeping, living in insecure accommodation or homeless hostels and a long term history of problematic alcohol use.

Opened in 2004, in partnership with Bield Housing Association, Rowan Alba provide on-site housing support and care-at-home services centred around individual needs, choices and preferences. There are eight ‘bedsit’ type flats and four one bedroom flats – all with lift access.

Rowan Alba support isn’t about forcing tenants into services they aren’t ready to use as a condition of stay or having to address dependency issues through therapy. The time may come when one of our tenants is ready and motivated to explore change – or it may not.

Thorntree Street is a community in itself, existing quietly within the wider Leith community, and offers a balance between independent, supported and communal living. Above all, it’s responsive to the changing needs, priorities and aspirations of each individual.

Without Thorntree Street, it’s likely tenants would still be in the cycle of homelessness, rough sleeping, care services or insecure or temporary accommodation. Existing rather than living.

Thorntree Street is a new model of provision in Edinburgh, challenging the established practice based on the belief that services know what is best for people.

Rowan Alba’s work is built on the fundamental principle of the right of the individual to make choices about their lives in terms of health, relationships and lifestyle. Tenants are also encouraged to recognise and address the responsibilities that come with these.

Feedback from service commissioners, Social Work and other referrers suggests that more Thorntree Street-type provision is required to meet the level of need out there in the wider community.

The concept is sound from so many angles – security of tenure, safety, choice, and respect. Dignity is achieved through the provision of cost effective quality accommodation, and care and support which recognises and values people as unique individuals.