Homelessness support increases at Bradford Salvation Army day shelter

published on 8 Mar 2017

At the official opening of its new day shelter, The Salvation Army acknowledged that, through The Orchard on Leeds Road, it is now a one-stop shop for people experiencing homelessness in Bradford, able to support more than a hundred people a day.  

At The Orchard, The Salvation Army offers a unique response to homelessness by drawing all its support mechanisms in one place – its newly opened day shelter that provides a one-stop shop for people with high level complex needs to access services, a ‘Lifehouse’ providing accommodation and support and a church, all of which are accessible to anyone needing help.   

David Holdsworth has lived at the Lifehouse since it opened 18 months ago. He lived in the cellar of an industrial unit for a month after his depression and gambling addiction alienated him from his family and left him unable to pay his rent. David had worked as an engineer and was away from home five nights a week, staying in hotels where he would gamble to ease the boredom.  

David admits: “When you’re addicted to gambling you’re not living a normal existence, you’re lying to yourself and to others - it’s a horrible life and you shouldn’t be leading it. But, I found, that if you are in a dark horrible place there are places that offer a lifeline. They call this place a Lifehouse and it’s no exaggeration – you can get your life back here.  

“The Salvation Army is a church and charity but you don’t have to be a Christian to receive support - they help anybody, they help human beings, and they’ve given me back my self-respect, which I’d lost.”   Confident of his daily recovery from addiction, David says: “I’ve had the help of my community here and the staff, which has been tremendous, and I’ve been made to feel a valued member of that community – that has helped me more than anything. I feel really pleased I’m making progress, which I’m doing because I’m surrounded by friends.”  

The Orchard’s day shelter has been offering support to people in the community seven days a week since 1 December 2016, in partnership with Bradford City Council. There, people with the most complex needs can access the services they need in the middle of the difficult circumstances they are experiencing, whether that’s needle exchanges, dentistry or healthcare to clean clothes, showering facilities or a haircut.  

Interim service manager Pat Tamminen said: “We work with a range of partners to ensure people can access the services they need in a one-stop shop and we hope to help them identify the type of assistance they require to meet their personal goals. Working this way means we can draw on the expertise of those around us to help break down any barriers people are facing.  

“While we offer services to help people meet their personal goals, we also offer meaningful activities which are fun and serve to build self-esteem, confidence and friendships, as well as teaching useful lifeskills. Our communal garden – planned and created by David and our chaplain Captain Alex Devine – is accessible to all and we have five chickens who love the attention of anyone who give them food, and who in return supply us with fresh eggs every day!”   

The Lifehouse has self-catering cluster rooms offering residents their own room with a sink, as well as shared lounges, kitchens and washing facilities. At present up to 42 people can be supported, with the potential to assist a further 21 in the future.  

The Orchard links with other services, such as health, college and work experience opportunities as well as specialised support. There is a medical room on site which can be used by visiting health professionals, a private area to meet with support workers, as well as the opportunity to take part in activities.  

The day shelter offers assistance to 50 to 100 people a day for basic support needs, such as clothes washing facilities, showers, opportunity to obtain clean clothing, food or to utilise the computer suite. An onsite training room provides space to teach bite-size modules on basic maths, English as well as independent living modules.  

Residents and day shelter visitors are encouraged to take part in the gardening club, learning to grow vegetables to help them become self-sufficient and learning basic animal husbandry skills through raising the five chickens.   David said: “It’s been exhilarating to get back into the garden again – it’s helped me return to something I’ve always enjoyed and to help others try something new, too. It also means I can give something back to our community.”   When people move to independent living from the Lifehouse, support continues to be available to help them maintain their tenancies and to break the cycle of homelessness.  

The official opening ceremony for the day shelter took place on 1 March 2017, conducted by The Salvation Army’s Secretary for Mission, Lieut-Colonel George Pilkington, who planted a fruit tree in The Orchard’s garden. Two other fruit trees were planted by support worker Paul Devine and David Holdsworth, recognising his efforts in mentoring other residents with his gardening expertise and helping create the garden.