Springfield Lodge is one of The Salvation Army’s Lifehouses, based in Camberwell, South London. The centre accommodates young people between the ages of 16 – 21 and is more than a hostel, helping residents to improve their self-esteem and employment prospects.
Capable of accommodating up to 40 residents in a caring, modern environment, Springfield Lodge Lifehouse is comprised of supported rooms with communal kitchens, studio flats and independent units or ‘bungalows’. Residents initially live in ‘clusters’ of five, sharing a kitchen and communal dining area designed to give them advance preparation for independent living. The next stage involves moving to a self-contained studio flat within the building and then onto the final stage of their stay in a self-contained studio unit or ‘bungalow’ in the grounds of Springfield Lodge.
In addition, Springfield Lodge Lifehouse offers holistic care of the whole person, encouraging residents to explore their gifts and talents by providing activities and training through an employment resource centre, games room, the latest ICT facilities, a garden area and chicken coop, and the unique music venue ‘Bare Beats Studio’. Residents have access to training and a range of vocational and practical life skills courses, along with a one-to-one relationship with a support worker to help them overcome the causes of homelessness and work towards independent living.
Ivan Congreve, who manages the Lifehouse, said: “The Salvation Army’s Springfield Lodge Lifehouse is like no other centre for young people. It offers accommodation alongside training, education, a life skills programme and volunteering opportunities all aimed at independence and self-worth.
“We offer a caring and supportive environment in a modern, purpose built facility, giving young people a real opportunity. This includes some of the most vulnerable and marginalised individuals in our society.”
The young people supported at Springfield Lodge are from a wide range of society and there is a strong community within the centre with the young people having input into the house rules and also attending review meetings to discuss their progress and goals achieved.
Springfield Lodge organised an outward bound course in the Lake District for residents. Those who attend found the experience life-changing. One of the weekend staff, who was recently left the centre to take up his dream job following completion of his training as a mental health nurse, is an ex-resident who wanted to give something back to the service following his positive experience and resettlement. He provided a good role model for the young people and was able to share his story with current residents.
Dylan was referred to Springfield Lodge by social services due to him having trouble adhering to a youth offending order for robbery. It was felt that Gateway Hostel, where he was living, was having detrimental effect on him due to peer pressure and lack of communication skills.
Dylan has had a dysfunctional family life and has been diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD, but has had a very supportive grandmother who lives in Sutton and encourages Dylan to channel his practical work nature through helping her local church members at the weekend with gardening and assisting at church functions.
During the week, Dylan also worked hard to keep the gardens at Springfield Lodge up to a good standard and supported other young people as they were working on the gardens as part of ‘Community Payback’. Gardening is not the only skill Dylan has – he also enjoys cooking and has qualifications in cookery – he has used these skills to attend Cooking Lifeskills and encourage other residents to bake.
Two months ago we were able to get Dylan on a work experience at a restaurant in a bank at Canary Wharf. This was a two-week placement – at the end of which, if he was successful, he would be offered an apprenticeship. Dylan achieved full attendance on the work experience and a week later received a telephone call offering him a full-time apprenticeship.
This apprenticeship has changed Dylan’s life. He has a reason to get up each morning, developed his communications skills and it has given him confidence so he feels he is making a difference. He is now looking at where he wants to move to when he moves on from Springfield lodge, and although the journey of learning is not over, he is at least on the journey.