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About Thorntree Mill

Based on our innovative Thorntree Model, Thorntree Mill is a new home for good centre in Edinburgh’s Peffermill. Created in partnership with Common Ground Against Homelessness, Thorntree Mill extends the provision for former street homeless men in Edinburgh by providing 9 modern self contained homes in a supported living environment.

How does Thorntree Mill work?

Rowan Alba support isn’t about forcing residents into ‘conditions of stay’ such as engaging services they don’t want to use, or having to address dependency issues through therapy.  It is THEIR home. Does your home come with those kind of personal conditions attached?

No one at Thorntree Mill can be ‘thrown out’, or designated ‘unsuitable’ or too challenging. Many of the men who live in Thorntree Mill have come from services where they had been described as having ‘behaviours unsuitable for the service’. We believe that this suggests that it was the other way around. ‘Services’ were unsuitable for them.

Key facts about the service

  • Located in Peffermill, Edinburgh
  • Scottish-assured tenancies
  • 24hr supported accommodation
  • Men of all ages with experience of homelessness

Thorntree Mill gallery

A collaborative movement against unsuitable accommodation

Rowan Alba’s new homes-for-life centre at Thorntree Mill has been a collaborative initiative with Common Ground Against Homelessness.

Common Ground Against Homelessness has a mission to redress the inequality within the property market which prevents housing charities from finding suitable buildings when in competition with commercial landlords and property investors. Common Ground Against Homelessness launched it’s first Community Share Offer in 2020 through the ethical investment platform, Ethex. The share offer raised a staggering £720,000 in under six weeks. The aim of the share offer was to purchase a building in Peffermill and convert it into nine homes-for-life. Rowan Alba was an active partner in the share offer from the outset and The Thorntree Model was instrumental in persuading investors of the validity of the investment proposal.

With the main part of the capital required for the building renovation secured the focus switched on to the functional aspects of the building and the implementation of the service. Declan McKeirnan used his experience throughout the design phase to guide Common Ground’s team towards a building design that would provide the homes-for-life and supporting areas needed for the type of individuals likely to be resident at Thorntree Mill. 

This innovative and collaborative solution to homelessness is an important step for Rowan Alba and the expansion of our services. On opening, Thorntree Mill will be a living example of how to create an environment that allows people left behind by mainstream society to grow and flourish in a stable home. Stay tuned to our social media channels in the future to see how our new staff team get to work delivering a real, lasting solution to homelessness.

How we apply our 3 principles to Thorntree Mill


Rowan Alba accepts every individual’s right to choose. Our support isn’t about forcing residents into ‘conditions of stay’ such as engaging services they don’t want to use, or having to address dependency issues through therapy.


We support residents to maintain and thrive in their own Scottish Secured tenancies with 24-hour staffing on site. Our specialist support includes working with them to manage finances, eating well and keeping on top of daily domestic tasks in their flats. 


Homes that provide Safety and Security make a difference that would be difficult for any ‘Service’ to quantify. We’ve had over 60 residents voices we have learned from, and 12 years on we’re still listening and learning to include them at every moment.

Meet our team

Our team at Thorntree have a wide range of skills and knowledge that support our tenants at all levels.

Declan McKiernan

Service Leader

Emma Woodward

Wellbeing & Activities Manager


Thorntree Mill is powered by amazing volunteers, like you!

If you are interested in the work we do at Thorntree Mill, volunteering for us could be a great way to make a real difference to the people in our community.
Just send us an email through the form below and our Volunteering team will get back to you.

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