Mayor of the West Midlands hears about the inspirational work of The Salvation Army in Birmingham

published on 20 Mar 2018

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, visited The Salvation Army in Birmingham on Wednesday (7 March) to see the vital work the church and charity does to help build and strengthen communities in Birmingham and across the West Midlands. 

The Mayor was invited by The Salvation Army to see the Lifehouse (that provides accommodation for people experiencing homelessness) at St Chad’s, together with the church in the same area. The Salvation Army showed the Mayor its 74 bed first stage accommodation* and discussed how they provide help to people who have experienced homelessness, and who want to move onto finding accommodation and eventually, a place to call home. 

Andy said: “The work The Salvation Army does with the homeless in the region is nothing short of remarkable and is just part of a much wider programme of community work.

“It was genuinely inspiring to meet just a few of the people who have been helped by the Salvation Army and hear how they have managed to get back on their feet after falling on hard times.” 

The Mayor met Major Peter Forrest, Divisional Commander for the West Midlands and Majors Adrian and Clare Allman, leaders of Birmingham Citadel, together with the manager of the Lifehouse, Mr Edward Dixon; all from The Salvation Army. 

Peter Forrest, Divisional Commander for The Salvation Army said: “It was wonderful to meet Andy Street and show him our Lifehouse, together with the church. The Salvation Army wants to be part of the solution to homelessness in the West Midlands. 

“We will share our experience, the ways we work and our new initiatives so that we can help prevent and reduce homelessness. Over 75% of our Lifehouse residents move on positively, towards independent living. Thousands of people, over the years at the Lifehouse, have been helped to get themselves back on track, often after significant life changes that lead to difficult circumstances, while others present with complex needs and may have long-term, addictive behaviours.”

He also met some of the people that have used the services at the Lifehouse, including Mary, who has been living at the Lifehouse since October 2017. Mary was sleeping rough for 12 years before getting accommodation at The Salvation Army Lifehouse. She is now looking to go into rehabilitation and afterwards, look to get a long-term home.

Major Adrian Allman, leader of Birmingham Citadel Salvation Army described the ways in which the church on St. Chad's Queensway help to reduce loneliness for older people through their ‘Come and Meet Each Other’ group, support local families and adults through their food bank service and provide employment advice and support for local people with its ‘Employment Plus’ and debt advice services.

The Citadel also operates an annual Christmas Toy Appeal, through which members of the community donate gifts to be redistributed through the local authority to disadvantaged children at Christmas. Toy parcels for children and 500 food parcels for families were distributed from the church at Christmas. 

The Salvation Army ‘Employment Plus’ initiative has been running the DWP's Work Programme from the Birmingham Citadel for the last seven years. During this time, close to 1300 local people have engaged with the service. 

Two years ago, The Salvation Army decided to run their own employability programme, called ‘Employment Plus Local’, outside the bounds of a specific contracted service. The E Plus Local service helps even more people with job searching through a tailored programme of support. 

The E Plus Local is managed and staffed by volunteers from The Salvation Army and utilises the knowledge of the staff on the contracted service.

The Salvation Army’s William Booth Centre Lifehouse, a centre for people experiencing homelessness in the heart of Birmingham, has accommodated 850 people between April 2016 and March 2017**. However, across all regions of England and in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, over 8000 people have accessed homelessness support services through The Salvation Army each year. 

The Salvation Army works to provide a front-line service for people breaking away from the cycle of homelessness. The service in Birmingham, contracted by Birmingham City Council, enables residents to access primary health services at the centre, hairdressers (collaborating with local vocational training providers), chaplaincy support, drug and alcohol recovery services, arts and social activities to help to build community and belonging, as well as providing support for those seeking to get back into work, through Crisis UK, Employment Plus Local and Business in the Community. 

The Salvation Army also runs the Aston 614 Youth Project on Gladstone Street, a Chaplaincy at Birmingham airport and another church (or ‘corps’) at Erdington. 

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.