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New Northlands Lifehouse offers lifeline to homeless young people

The Salvation Army’s new Northlands Lifehouse in Cardiff has been officially opened heralding a new start for homeless and vulnerably housed young people. More than a hostel, a Lifehouse gives people their lives back by offering activities and training to help improve the self-esteem, mental health and employment prospects of the young people.

The modern centre was supported with £1.6 million Social Housing Grant and delivered by United Welsh with support from Welsh Government and Cardiff Council. It will provide much needed support to young people aged between 16 and 25 who are homeless; to help them achieve successful and sustainable resettlement into appropriate accommodation.

Commissioner André Cox The Salvation Army’s Territorial Commander and Huw Lewis, Welsh Government Minister for Housing Regeneration and Heritage were present for the official opening.

The Commissioner said: “The Salvation Army has a long history of working with some of the most vulnerable people in society and our service at Northlands Lifehouse provides hope for young people often with no where else to turn to.

“More than a place to stay, our lifehouses offer support and accommodation to help them rebuild their confidence; learn and develop new skills and improve their employment prospects. People are at the heart of everything we do; working alongside people, offering practical support to those who are vulnerable or in need.”

Huw Lewis said: “I am very pleased to be here today and am sure that the Lifehouse will provide a modern, quality service for homeless people so that they can reach their full potential, and work towards successful and sustainable resettlement. Issues around homelessness and supporting people are very important to me and I am determined that services like this, beacons of best practice and development, can be made available across Wales where there is most need.”

The building in Cardiff has always represented sanctuary to a diverse audience. Northlands was taken over by The Salvation Army in 1922 when it was a mother & infants home. According to Salvation Army records 7,500 babies were born in Northlands. The building during its time has also been used as a children’s home and as a care home for older people.

Since 2000 The Salvation Army has provided support and accommodation for homeless young people and in 2011-12 the centre provided support to 101 young people. The new building has allowed the services delivered to be modernised. This includes a dedicated training room from which to deliver their extensive programme.

The Northlands Education, Training and Employment programme, offers residents a diverse range of opportunities to develop skills, confidence, valuable qualifications and voluntary work experience, thus furthering their chances of future employment. This includes qualifications and lifeskills training such as Healthy Living, Budgeting, and Healthy Relationships.

The positive effect the new building has had on clients is already visible. New communal spaces are encouraging more resident interaction, and residents are taking more care of their own space.