James Lee house celebrates 50th anniversary

published on 18 Jul 2018

Warrington’s James Lee House, a Lifehouse which helps people who have been homeless to rebuild their lives  celebrates its 50th birthday on 20 July.

The birthday bash will take place on 17 July, a few days before the anniversary date, and will celebrate 50 years since the opening of the homelessness centre on Brick Street. The free celebrations are open to everyone and guests can look forward to cream tea, entertainment from The Salvation Army Band and plenty of hospitality and chat with staff and residents past and present.

Speaking about the anniversary, Matthew Davenport, service manager said: “Congratulations to everybody who has contributed to the development of this wonderful Lifehouse where we continue to see lives transformed. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to so many people who have supported James Lee House over five decades. I would like to give my thanks to the staff and volunteers who commit themselves wholeheartedly to the important work we do here but I particularly wish to thank the residents, past and present, who in their turn each create a living, lively home that provides a base for local people experiencing homelessness to rebuild their lives and move forward into a new home.

“Since I’ve been at James Lee House, I’ve been privileged to witness so many people moving into employment, regain their confidence, learn new skills and move into a new home. We hope to see many local people on 17 July to share in a milestone anniversary for this important Warrington community facility. ”

A plaque on the wall in reception commemorates the opening of James Lee House on 20 July 1968 by The International Leader of The Salvation Army, General Frederick Coutts, father-in-law of bandmaster James Lee, in whose honour the facility is named. At a cost of £150,000, the hostel initially provided modern single room housing for 127 men - a huge improvement in accommodation to the previous bunk bed dormitory lodgings. The Brick Street site has been a centre for the homeless community since 1925. Originally called Hobley’s Common Lodging House, the facility met great local need with records indicating that the dormitories slept 40 men. So great was local demand for accommodation that stories suggest a line was strung between two posts and the homeless could sleep under shelter as long as they were uprights and leant on the line for support –  the phrase ‘I could sleep on a clothesline’ is believed to have originated from this practice during the depression of the 1930s.

Today James Lee Lifehouse provides 54 beds for men and women over the age of 18 years experiencing homelessness in and around Warrington. Homelessness can be the cause or result of various social and personal problems and is often very hard to work with because of the individual complex needs. The Salvation Army's highly professional staff team and their reputation for delivering person centred care is at the heart of the work within James Lee House.

Some individuals who have experienced homelessness, often feel trapped and may relinquish hope as a means of emotional survival and engage in potentially harmful behaviours as a way of coping. At James Lee House, we fully understand that we are working with someone's son or daughter, we believe in the whole person and will walk alongside them as they rediscover themselves and achieve a positive outcome for their life.