The Salvation Army in Birmingham is preparing for its Christmas celebrations and will be ensuring that those who are often most excluded do not miss out this year.
William Booth Centre Lifehouse (residential accommodation) at Snow Hill, opposite St. Chad’s Cathedral, supports a minimum of 74 single men and women experiencing homelessness with a plan to help residents move onto longer-term accommodation. The accommodation has been in use since 1974 and refurbished in 2005. The Salvation Army provides a contracted service to Birmingham City Council to accommodate people experiencing homelessness.
Residents can access a range of support including the opportunity to enhance their life skills and prepare for independent living, as well as one-to-one tailored assistance in tackling the obstacles that have led to them experiencing homelessness. The Lifehouse has accommodated around 1000 people over this last year and residents will be able to celebrate Christmas together at the Lifehouse, sharing a three-course meal on Christmas day.
The Programme coordinator, Hannah Kennedy said: “Christmas can be an emotional time for many people, with communities and families gathering together to celebrate. Many of the people living in our Lifehouses experience homelessness due to a breakdown in relationships and by becoming homeless they can also feel isolated from society – it can be a lonely time of year.
“As a Church and charity, we want to make sure that people feel included in a supportive, welcoming community. At Christmas, we will be holding our traditional carol service – to which we invite our community as well – and our residents will have a three-course Christmas Day dinner. Staff are also making sure everyone has a gift on Christmas morning as part of our celebrations. There will also be a number of Christmas-themed activities in the lead up to the big day.”
Manager of the Lifehouse, Edward Dixon said: “Our aim is that people will move on from us into their own independent accommodation, whether that is private rented or housing association accommodation, with continued support from us and other partner agencies, if needed. We also give advice and help on other housing options, with the aim to ensure the cycle of homelessness is broken.
“We have seen many successful move ons throughout the year, and many people would already have seen the stories about Mary, Jim, Bob and Paul. Mary had been homeless for 20 years, but is making huge strides forward in her recovery. She will be spending Christmas with her family this year and is overjoyed to be with them again.”
In addition, the Salvation Army’s Citadel church (24 St Chad’s Queensway) will be holding its annual carol concert in Symphony Hall on Sunday 9 December at two shows, 2.30pm and 6pm.
Corps (Officer) Minister of the Church, Clare Allman said: “The carol concert that we host in Symphony Hall is our gift to the community at Christmas time, it involves singing carols together, seeing the nativity story and enjoying a musical extravaganza – including brass, African rhythm, solo singers and The Salvation Army timbrels.”
The church is also distributing food parcels and toys to local families for Christmas. Last year, The Salvation Army distributed 850 toy packages and 500 food parcels to local families in need. The church is packing a similar number this year, with help from corporate volunteers, as well as their own church members. Other Salvation Army churches across the Black Country are also appealing for toys, including Dudley and Cradley Heath.