Salford project aims to boost well-being for people experiencing homelessness

published on 27 Feb 2018


A project, the ‘well-being burger’, which is achieving positive outcomes by addressing the relationship between mental health and homelessness through improving well-being opened its doors to the wider community on Monday 26th February. Organisers hope to encourage local people to find out more about the approach which has been transforming lives at Abbott Lodge, a Salvation Army Housing Association (saha) service.

The project is having a transformative effect for service users as 90% have moved onto either social or private housing, and more than 40 have enrolled in some form of qualification after completing the course.  A high proportion of those involved have reported an improvement in their overall health and are sleeping better. 

Dave, aged 49 who joined the programme at the end of last year after living at Abbott Lodge has lost two and a half stone and recently moved into a council property. Dave, said: “I moved into Abbott Lodge after my relationship with my wife broke down and I had no where else to go. One of the reasons for the break up was my health. I had panic attacks at night and suffered from sleep apnoea. The 'well-being burger' has helped me to transform my life and I’ve gone from doing about 12 thousand steps to 40 thousand steps a week. The programme has helped me to become more active and given me a real focus which has improved my mental health. I’m now sleeping better as well. My ex wife has also started coming along to the 'well-being burger' and she’s starting to see positive results.”

The ‘well-being burger’ is a 12 week programme where service users design their own visual burger based on well-being interests and highlight areas for improvements through interventions and activities tailored to their individual needs. The programme connects service users to specialists in nutrition and physical activity. In addition to the weekly meetings there are drop in sessions and out-reach consultations. 

Nigel Parrington (CEO) at saha, said:  “We believe that breaking the cycle of homelessness can’t be done by providing accommodation alone and, as a result, offer a wide range of innovative and unique initiatives at our services. The 'well-being burger' is a great example of one of these. It’s designed to increase awareness and knowledge of a service user's overall health, based on factors around nutrition and physical activity which may affect their tenancy and for the preparation for independent living.  

“Saha is delighted to be offering this service and has been impressed by the transformative affect it is having. By encouraging the community to come and find out more we hope it can act as an early intervention.”

Service users are aged between 16 and 50 and live with conditions such as higher than average BMI, type two diabetes, mental health issues, malnutrition, sleep deprivation and poor cardiovascular health. The 'well-being burger' works in partnership with a number of local professional services including The University of Salford, Salford NHS and StreetGames. 

Dean Ashton, who devised the programme, said: “Our trained staff work with each client using strength-based conversation and a person-centred approach. An assessment is made of their mood / mental state, general health, risk of homelessness, needs, interests and other relevant information. Staff apply motivational interviewing to develop user-built programmes (the burger) and support clients who are experiencing homelessness to progress to their goals. 

“We envisage that the key to success will be the unique nature of taking a holistic, asset-based approach with each individual, whereby we help them identify their strengths, goals, barriers and supply a variety of ingredients for them to build their own ‘well-being burger’.”