“It’s the best job in the world.” Why helping people move out of Devonport House is so rewarding

published on 13 Jan 2017

A Plymouth residential centre for people at risk of homelessness has been described as a dream place to work by one of its support staff.  

Devonport Lifehouse offers accommodation and support to its community of 72 men and women who would otherwise be homeless and equips them with valuable life skills and vocational training while they are there.    

Situated in the docks area and run by The Salvation Army; centre staff help Devonport’s members with a range of personal challenges — from physical and mental health problems to relationship breakdowns — work through their issues and gain the confidence to lead independent lives.  

During their time at Devonport Lifehouse everyone’s encouraged to learn a host of skills, from cooking and woodwork, to computing.   

The Salvation Army is a provider of homelessness services throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The church and charity believes providing a bed alone won't go far enough to solve the issues of homelessness. It is an expert in helping people who are experiencing homelessness achieve their goals and employs an experienced and skilled workforce.   

Staff work alongside the people they help, supporting them to reach their goal, whether that be employment, getting back in touch with family or beating an addiction. The Salvation Army will never give up on anyone and will give hope.  

Jackie Javan, who has been a support worker at the Devonport Lifehouse since 1998, said:   “It’s the best job in the world. It becomes a bit like a family and we all look out for each other. I always say to them ‘never be defined by your past it was just a lesson not a life sentence’ and it’s so true.   “The Salvation Army is all about helping people to help themselves and that’s what really attracted me to this job in the first place.  I feel like I’m making a difference to help them be the best they can be. Seeing how much more confident people are when they’ve learned something new, like how to cook a meal or budget for themselves, is just fantastic.  

“Equally I learn so much from the people who live here too and from the volunteers who give up their time to come in and support us. Every day is different here and I’m constantly amazed by how resilient and resourceful the people in our little community are.”  

Tristan Gaskell used to live at Devonport but is now based in a nearby Salvation Army supported housing project called Zion House, he said:  “I arrived here last April and I was in a pretty bad way. I was drinking too much and I was made homeless.  I spent about a week on the streets of Plymouth then I went to the council and they put me in touch with Devonport House.  

“Jackie was the first person I saw when I got there and she was absolutely brilliant and my support worker, Tracey Emerson helped me so much.  She taught me how to care for others and myself.   “The staff were brilliant at showing me loads of stuff, like how to manage my finances which was a massive help. They sat down beside me and helped me do my water and gas bills. I’ve never lived on my own so I didn’t have a clue.”   Tristan’s experience of being at Devonport Lifehouse — particularly the care and respect shown to him by its staff — has now made him determined to train for a career in support work himself.     To find out more about working at Devonport Lifehouse, contact Hannah Kendall on 01752 562170 or visit  http://workforall.salvationarmy.org.uk/current-vacancies