Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly visits Salvation Army Lifehouse amid fears over future funding

published on 14 Nov 2017

Mr. Djanogly was invited by The Salvation Army to make him aware of how the recent government decision to fund short term supported housing entirely through local authority grants could seriously affect the church and charity’s provision of accommodation and support to vulnerable people.

During his visit, the Huntingdon MP chatted with three Kings Ripton Court Lifehouse (hostel) residents Jessica Nix, Rachel Harwin and Jade Horner about the circumstances that had brought them to the centre and how its staff and volunteers were helping them to gain the confidence, life skills and emotional support to help them on the road to living independently. 

After touring the centre’s private accommodation and communal spaces with centre manager Alison Metcalf; Mr. Djanogly also heard The Salvation Army’s assistant regional manager for homelessness, Captain Alison Greer’s concerns for the future of Lifehouses such as Kings Ripton Court.

Captain Alison Greer said:

“We are very pleased that Mr. Djanogly took the time to come and see the vital work that’s done here to help young people with a variety of complex needs find a route out of homelessness. I am especially pleased he was able to hear our three service users’very personal accounts of their experiences here.

“I’m hopeful that he now understands how the proposals to fund supported housing through local council grants leaves us in such as precarious position going forward as there are no guarantees that struggling councils will have the ability to meet these costs.”

Kings Ripton Court Lifehouse provides person-centred support with accommodation for 36 young men and women experiencing homelessness, between the ages of 16 and 25.

The centre provides opportunities for service users to complete a personalised life skills training programme —learning skills such as cooking, budgeting, maintaining a tenancy and looking after a home—to help them successfully move on to living independent lives within the community. 

The Salvation Army is a church and charity dedicated to caring for people who are vulnerable or in need.  Salvation Army churches are at the heart of the local communities they serve and provide compassionate support, practical help and a warm welcome to anyone visiting them.

Kings Ripton Court is situated at Kings Ripton Road, Huntingdon PE28 2NZ.

Hadleigh Park, the former Olympic mountain bike venue – now a family friendly leisure park – and Hadleigh Farm has become the first leisure space in Essex to be awarded the ECL Sensory Charter Mark. At an event on Friday 10 November members of the public, staff and volunteers gathered to celebrate, and to take part in activities on site.

The Charter Mark signifies to people with sight and hearing impairments that Hadleigh’s park and leisure facilities are accessible to them; the teams at Hadleigh were keen to achieve the award to further improve their accessibility and open up to more visitors.

Last year Hadleigh Park and Farm commissioned a sensory audit, and working with ECL Sensory Service worked with staff and volunteers with sight, hearing and dual sensory loss to assess buildings, pathways and other facilities.  The recommendation report included improving acoustics and large print menus in the café, hearing loop systems on counters and training for staff on Lived Experience Sensory Awareness, all of which have been implemented.

Robert Anderson, Hadleigh Park manager said: “We are delighted to receive the Sensory Access Charter Mark and be the first leisure space in Essex to do so. 

Physical activity and sport are important for everyone’s physical and mental health and wellbeing and that is why we hope the Charter will encourage people from the sensory community to visit the Hadleigh Park.”

This is part of the broader Active Essex vision to change one million lives and get the county active no matter their age or ability.

Faye Gatenby, Head of Sensory Services, at ECL said: “We are delighted to award the Sensory Charter Mark to Hadleigh Park and Hadleigh Farm.  Their commitment to making the park accessible to as many people as possible is inspiring and is evidenced in the work and training they’ve undertaken.  They are also working to support other parks and organisations by sharing their experience with others who are also looking to become more accessible to those with sensory impairments.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Ciaran, Robert and their teams, and hope this award will encourage more people to visit Hadleigh Farm and Hadleigh Park.”

Ciaran Egan, The Salvation Army’s operations manager for the estate, said: “For our facilities to be recognised as accessible community spaces is a great achievement. Throughout our history here in Hadleigh, The Salvation Army has been committed to making community life more inclusive. We hope the improvements we have made will mean even more people can enjoy Hadleigh Farm and Hadleigh Park.”

About Hadleigh Farm Estate:

The Salvation Army’s 900 acre Hadleigh Farm Estate incorporates a training centre for adults with additional support needs, Hadleigh Farm Tea Rooms, a rare breeds centre, as well as The Hub Café and partnership with Essex County Council at Hadleigh Park, the venue for the London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Event.