Super Sharon celebrates 20 years serving homeless community

published on 5 Jun 2024

The manager of a Salvation Army hostel supporting people who are homeless in Braintree is celebrating 20 years in the job.

Staff and residents at New Direction, Bocking End, marked the occasion with balloons, banners and a buffet, and presented Sharon with a sign containing messages of thanks from residents.

Sharon Ralph, who has spent her entire career helping others, joined The Salvation Army’s New Direction hostel at Bocking End in 2004 as a support worker. She previously worked with older people in social care. 

Sharon said: “I went from supporting older people to supporting our hostel residents with challenges like benefits and employment. I brought life experience to the role, as well as empathy and patience.”

During her time at New Direction, Sharon has seen a rise in homelessness locally and funding that hasn’t kept pace with need but is in no doubt that The Salvation Army’s support for people who are homeless is getting stronger.

PR Comms New Direction
Edward Mckinley, support worker, Sharon Ralph, manager, and Anthony Reay, are part of the team at New Direction

Sharon said she and her team have also worked on building up good relationships with the community, contributing to a change in the perception of homelessness.

Sharon added: “Support for New Direction has grown. We’ve always been an unofficial drop-in and even if we are full, we will help people out with food and showers. We don’t turn people away. Our teams are fantastic at communicating what is going on and we all work well together. We stay positive, because the future of this service is important.”

The team at New Direction paid tribute to Sharon led by Edward Mckinley, support worker. 

He said: “Sharon saw the value I could bring. She leads by example and has high standards. She is one of the best leaders I have worked for and is very professional.”

Commenting on her surprise 20th anniversary celebration, Sharon said:  “All the residents were involved and made a thank you sign. Their comments choked me up and it was really unexpected. I was blown away! I still get a lot of joy from work and hope to stay in the role as long as there is a need to support people.”

May 24 CTA

Support our Spring Appeal

Help break the cycle of homelessness.