Swindon homelessness centre celebrates 10th anniversary

published on 7 Jul 2017

[Booth House residents pose in front of new art installation]

Swindon's Booth House resettlement centre which helps people who have been homeless to rebuild their lives is celebrating its tenth birthday on 10 July.

The Salvation Army runs Booth House and the centre has helped 700 people to turn their lives around since it opened in 2007. Booth House held a special celebration event for its 10th anniversary yesterday (Thursday 6 July).

Liz Osborne, the manager of Booth House said:

“I started working at Booth House soon after it opened 10 years ago to develop social enterprise as a means to support people in the Swindon area who were experiencing homelessness to break that cycle, rebuild their lives and move into a new home.

“It’s a special place, but Booth House is not actually a ‘homeless shelter’ – it’s a Salvation Army Lifehouse, where the focus is on supporting people to build relationships and find purpose in their lives.  We provide a safe environment where we support people to move out of homelessness into a more secure future.

“Since I’ve been at Booth House, I’ve been privileged to witness around 100 people moving into employment, and around 700 people regain their confidence, learn new skills and move into a new home.”

[Booth House Manager Liz Osborne and Swindon South MP Robert Buckland]

Booth House offers a range of support services and activities for its residents to help them develop new skills and regain their confidence.

It also runs two social enterprise businesses, The Sandwich People and Recycles which reinvest any profits they make for the benefit of the residents of Booth House.

Recycles sells refurbished second hand bikes and also provides servicing and repair. 

The Sandwich People makes sandwiches and other fresh food for its buffet services and its delivery round in Swindon.

Booth House residents who are involved with recycles and The Sandwich People learn bicycle mechanics and catering skills as well as how to run a business.

It celebrated its first decade of service to Swindon with an open day on Thursday 6 July.

A work of art made up of glass tiles decorated by residents and local artist Sasha Ward was unveiled at the 10th anniversary celebrations. 

The glass wall recognises the support of many local organisations and individuals who have donated resources to the centre over the past 10 years.

Guests at the anniversary celebration included Angus Macpherson, the police and crime commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon and Robert Buckland, MP for South Swindon.

Local musician Bob Bowles also entertained guests before the unveiling of the new glass wall.

[Captain Nicola Watson with Booth House Manager Liz Osborne and Swindon South MP Robert Buckland]

What the residents have to say about Booth House:

“If you’re a vulnerable person that needs support, Booth House is for you. It’s made me more confident”;

“Booth House means a lot to me because when my marriage broke up, I had to leave her in the house and I went homeless. It was only through Booth House that I’ve picked myself up”;

· “I came in broken – didn’t have a future, didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. As I’ve progressed through the last 12 months, I’ve now got a future, I know what I want to do and I know how to get there and I couldn’t have got anywhere near there without Booth House. I don’t know where I’d be without the place”;

“The major thing they’ve done is build me up because when you’re in this situation that’s what you need – you need people to build you up and see what’s special inside you. And they did that because when you get put in that situation your confidence goes, you start to think that you’re beneath humanity and they show you that you are a beautiful person – it’s just now and then you might need reminding of it.”