Funding boost for Salvation Army’s Southend homeless project
published on 22 Jul 2021
Salvation Army leaders in Southend say they are delighted that funding has been secured for a project to rehabilitate people experiencing homelessness in specially designed modular homes.
A last-minute donation has meant the project can go ahead after all.
The church and charity joined forces with Citizens UK and housing developer Hill Group to set up the SHC Partnership which has started work on the project in the seaside town and other locations around the country.
Captain Tracey Bale of the Southend Citadel has led efforts to secure the funding locally. She revealed that the project had been thrown into doubt because of an £80,000 shortfall – until an unexpected donation.
She said: “We were asked to raise £5,000, which we did through people’s generosity. I spoke to Southend Council to ask for help and it was looking unlikely. But within a couple of days, we received a letter from a housing association that was closing who wanted to give us £100,000. As I read the letter I stood there in shock. But this was confirmation from God that he had the situation in hand and wanted the project to go ahead.
“The letter was from Andrew Conway at St Saviour’s Housing Association, a Christian organisation which had two houses to accommodate young people. They have the same values and same aims as The Salvation Army. He was really excited and emotional, as this was confirmation their work would be continuing.”
Attention is now turning to securing planning permission for the scheme and it is hoped that the first residents could move in towards the end of this year.
As well as providing accommodation, support workers will also work closely with residents helping them to adjust to their new lives.
Tracey said she believes the project will make a big difference in Southend where there are currently believed to be around 70 people experiencing homeless. Recent statistics show the town ranks eighth on the list of the UK’s 10 worst homeless hotspots.
She added: “That alone shows this is a big problem. Although people experiencing homelessness were accommodated at the time of the pandemic, the churches who used to work with the night shelter won’t be able to operate in the same way, so they’ll be put back out on the streets.
“There is plenty of advice for them but Southend Council don’t have any spare accommodation so this will make a big difference.”
The new units will provide homes for people who have been housed by the local homeless charity, HARP.
Tracey said: “We want to help them improve their lives, move on and better themselves. What is frustrating is because of the reputation The Salvation Army has as a charity which helps people experiencing homelessness, some expect us to just have homes we can put people into. But our nearest Lifehouse is in Braintree and the others are in London. Some people don’t want to move away. We will be working with residents long term. That is exciting and fulfilling and I’m looking forward to it.”