A Christmas to remember for resident after 20 in prison
published on 19 Dec 2022
Festivities to remember for homeless man who spent 20 Christmases of his life in prison.
A Manchester homeless man will be given a Christmas to remember thanks to The Salvation Army after a traumatic life saw him spend 20 Christmases in prison.
A Manchester-based Salvation Army Lifehouse (hostel) will see its residents enjoy a three-course turkey and all the trimmings festive lunch on Christmas Day which for many, will be the first Christmas that they have spent at a more secure time of their lives for a number of years.
For one resident, Sam, 48, he will be spending the day with the church and charity, which is a far cry from previous years in which he spent a total of 20 Christmases, almost half his life, in prison following a chaotic and crime-fuelled life, which started with trauma in his childhood.
Having been crime free for five years, Sam has been a resident at The Salvation Army Lifehouse, Discovery House, located on Every Street, Ancoats, for the last two and a half years where he is getting the support to turn his life around and is this year looking forward to Christmas Day.
He said: “It’s a battle for me every week. I’m finally crime free and never thought I would be. I’ve had a total of twenty Christmases spent in prison, this year will be my fifth out and the first one on the right path.
“I got my first prison sentence at the age of 17, it was scary and I had no idea that from then, that was going to be my life. I was back inside at age 19 and then again at age 20. I was in prison for four Christmases from aged 17 to the age of 21.
“This Christmas I’ll spend it at The Salvation Army, I did the same last year, and it was brilliant. I got given a present, a Christmas present! I hadn’t had a Christmas present in years!
“We all eat breakfast together, cook together, it feels homely, like a family. And they’re giving me an opportunity. I’ve never witnessed a place like this in my life, and I’ve been to many places that say they’ll help you.”
Discovery House is one of three Salvation Army Lifehouses that make up Manchester Homelessness Services; the other two are Independence House and Endeavour House and the church and charity has been supporting homeless people in Manchester for a number of years. All Lifehouses accommodate men and women over the age of 18 that are experiencing homelessness in and around Manchester through a referral basis. Discovery House provides 10 beds, Independence House, located in Beswick, provides 15 beds and Endeavour House, located in Levenshulme, also provides 15 beds.
Nigel Yates, service manager for all three Lifehouses, said: “We have a special Christmas Day meal every year, making our residents feel loved and included. For many, like Sam, they are still going through very difficult stages in their lives, and so it is important for us to give them a sense of normality, to be around people that care and enable them to escape their worries, even if just for a few hours.”
The Salvation Army hostels are known as Lifehouses as they provide specialist support and guidance to help residents to tackle the complex reasons that led them to homelessness, and help them end this cycle.
Sam added: “If people are committed and put the effort in, The Salvation Army can help anyone. People never thought that it was possible for me to change, I didn’t either. But The Salvation Army has helped me be that person, that person I can be. They’ve helped me break all the negative cycles in my life and are helping me continue to break those cycles. Making me be a better person and I will forever be grateful for that.”