Watford New Hope Memories Workshop

The Haven Support Centre

Casiobury Park
Casiobury Park
Casiobury Park
Casiobury Park
Casiobury Park
Casiobury Park
Casiobury Park
Free School, Watford
Town Hall, Watford
Watford Central Library
Watford High Street
Watford Market
Watford Market

During the summer of 2014 memories workshops were held with some of the Service Users who access The Haven Support Centre, which is part of New Hope homeless charity to talk about their memories of life in and around Watford. Various questions were asked to find out what they thought about Watford; living in the area, recent changes and also on going to The Haven.

Q1. What are your favourite places in Watford?

Parks and the great outdoors

  • Cassiobury Park – the big bridge where the canal boats go through, walking is a popular pastime. One of the Service Users lived for four months penniless in the park. He was introduced to “The Coaches” now known as The Haven by a wee pixie of a man with a black dog. He lived for two years by the canal.
  • Another memory of Cassiobury Park is going to the fireworks and getting lost, walking miles and coming out by the station by West Herts College and going to Nandos.
  • Cassiobury Park is very precious! The staircase from Cassiobury Park House is in the New York Metropolitan Museum.
  • The Grove – a great place to play golf.
  • The Grand Union Canal? The grandfather of one of the Service Users has a stone with his name and the date of his death to commerate the work he did on the sewers along the canal. Another Service User liked the canal network and the endless countryside and lovely walks.
  • The (Town) Pond

Buildings of Watford

  • Watford General Hospital – very well looked after when the kids were born!
  • Watford Grammar School – a great school for my daughter!
  • Peace Hospice – One of the female Service Users said she has visited the hospice in view of doing some charity work. The atmosphere was really peaceful, relaxing and smelling great for caring for people at the end of their life.
  • Old Rolls Royce Building (Leavesden Studios)
  • The library – access to books, internet, newspapers – informal education.
  • Shrodells will soon be replaced.

Shops and Shopping

  • Watford has a great shopping centre, the first T K Max was here! The Harlequin Centre used to be old shops, family run businesses but not know. It’s great that there is free wifi in the Harlequin Centre.
  • Jacksons jewellers
  • Carey’s the stationers
  • Furniture/Bric a brac shop in Queens Road and a book shop further down, run by an elderly gentleman.
  • Trewins, now John Lewis near to Littlewoods (which has now moved into the Harlequin) on Queens Road. One of the Service Users remembers his parents took him there and brought him a lamp in imitation marble, in green plastic with a gold pillar, it was a terrible lamp! He bumped into his old geography teacher in the shopping centre. There was also a Model shop called “Beatties” which used to have trains, cars, planes, army vehicles. His parent used to take him into Watford to see the fireworks and also the Christmas lights, he always enjoyed Christmas shopping!

Places to eat and drink

  • Sitting outside Costa on the Lower High Street
  • The One Crown – the oldest pub in Watford
  • Hilton International Hotel, you can have a cup of tea and coffee.
  • If you go to the Food Bank you can get a food parcel.
  • The pub that used to be opposite where to McDonalds is near the Lower High Street
  • The Rose and Crown pub in Market Street

Q2. Do you like living in Watford? Why?


  • Yes, there’s plenty going on
  • The Mayor gave a talk, she came from Lancashire, at least Watford is lively, they are trying to put life back in the town.
  • The shops and the park!
  • Yes, it’s easy to commute, nice, friendly people, nice lively town – need to attract business so the town prospers.
  • Good shopping Centre, would like a Debenhams


  • It’s not a nice place, not friendly and some nasty places.
  • Don’t like Watford, its noisy!
  • Lots of litter on the streets
  • Don’t feel safe at all.
  • No!
  • You need money to live in Watford!
  • One Service User had come back from Canada 30 years ago and doesn’t think it’s as nice. Yet some of the rough estates are now really nice.
  • Need more street cleaning as the street cleaning programme starts at 4am in the morning.
  • Don’t feel safe in the evening in Watford, after a certain time, especially in West Watford.

Q3. What would you like to change about Watford?

  • More parking please!
  • A High Street that works!
  • Independent traders
  • Greater investment in small businesses
  • More Internet access. More places to go online for free local traders
  • Knock down the shopping centre!
  • There are no sustainable independent traders, they don’t make any money and can’t pay the rent.

Q4. What changes would you like to see in Watford?

  • There was a call for work related training courses in Watford with more work specific skills than just IT skills
  • Would like some cooking facilities so they could learn how to cook and somewhere to use the food from the Food Bank!
  • A Day Centre for teenagers/children to learn rather than do drugs, more constructive than destructive! No one is taking any interest in them, some children just want some love and attention from people – causing crime is the only way their voices can be heard!
  • Some people struggle to read and spell, they would like money spent on Maths and English courses for the Day Centre. They would like smaller classes for Literacy and Numeracy, it would help to build up their confidence to be able to move on to bigger places. English and Maths for people who struggle with confidence to go to college and people who don’t understand this.
  • More money for facilities for children and teenagers, at least once a month they should have a support service on Drugs Advice. Work experience opportunities, service users have children in care, they would like support and counselling services, for men too.

Q5. What changes have you seen in Watford since you have lived here?

  • The demographics have changed
  • The New Pond. There were strong views from the clients using Watford New Hope that the £6m spent on the area could have been spent on better things such as new builds, new centres for the homeless, affordable housing. “There are loads of centres in London you can stay overnight but there is a need for more accessible night shelters in Watford”!

Q5 Why do you like coming to The Haven

  • Very kind and genuine, they actually want to help you to get back on your feet and guide you with housing!
  • Gives you a chance to meet you new people, have a cup of tea and a chat and talk about problems, support from the staff!
  • Supportive staff
  • People all on the same level of vulnerability, helps with confidence levels as we all help each other. Life has been full of empty promises and attitudes.
  • Made more friends here, there’s more authenticity in life at New Hope
  • We all help each other because we all understand what it’s like to be homeless
  • You get breakfast and lunch, lots of tea, coffee, cakes
  • Get advice
  • Can use the phone here to call solicitors etc.
  • Help with applications for jobs and benefits.


September 2014


Clients of New Haven Support Centre were given a camera and asked to take photos of some of the places they talked about during the Memories Workshop: Cassiobury Park, the Charter School, the Town Hall, the Public Library and the High Street near to the market. 

This page was added on 25/02/2015.

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