James Cleverly MP (Braintree), Councillor Graham Butland (Leader of Braintree District Council) and Councillor Lynette Bowers-Flint (Braintree District Council Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing) spent the morning with staff and residents at New Direction Lifehouse on Friday (8 December) to hear how changes in government funding could prevent The Salvation Army from continuing to provide specialist supported housing to people experiencing homelessness in and around Braintree.
The recent government decision to fund short term supported housing entirely through local authority grants could seriously affect the church and charity’s provision of accommodation and support for vulnerable people.
After touring the centre’s accommodation and communal spaces with centre manager Sharon Ralph, Salvation Army staff shared their concerns for the future of centres such as New Direction.
Captain Alison Greer, The Salvation Army’s assistant regional manager for homelessness services, said: “We are very pleased that Mr Cleverley, Councillor Butland and Councillor Bowers-Flint took the time to come and see the vital work that’s done here to help people with a variety of complex needs find a route out of homelessness.
“I am especially pleased they were able to speak with Rich. Just two weeks ago we were able to support Rich as he made the transition to independent living. He was able to share how the support from The Salvation Army has given him confidence and life skills to help him transform his situation.
“I’m hopeful that Mr Cleverley, Councillor Butland and Councillor Bowers-Flint now understand how the proposals to fund supported housing through local council grants leaves us in a precarious position going forward as there are no guarantees that struggling councils will have the ability to meet these costs.”
New Direction Lifehouse provides person-centred support with accommodation for 14 people experiencing homelessness.
The centre provides opportunities for residents to complete a personalised life skills training programme — learning skills such as cooking, budgeting, maintaining a tenancy and looking after a home—to help them successfully move on to living independent lives within the community.
The Salvation Army is a church and charity dedicated to caring for people who are vulnerable or in need. Through its church on Rayne Road and New Direction Lifehouse on Bocking End, Braintree Salvation Army is at the heart of the town and provides compassionate support, practical help and a warm welcome to all.
For more information about Braintree Salvation Army, please visit our website.