A Swindon centre which supports people who have experienced homelessness to get their lives back on track, was visited by local MP Robert Buckland on Friday (1 December).
The Salvation Army runs Booth House and since it opened 10 years ago the centre has helped more than 700 men and women.
Robert Buckland MP met staff and residents, including Jane* who was once a heroin and crack cocaine addict.
Since moving into the centre 18 months ago after losing her home, Jane has kicked her drug habit and gained qualifications.
“Since I’ve been at Booth House I’ve changed my life around. I was a drug user when I came in and I woke up one day here and decided ‘I don’t want this anymore,” Jane told Robert Buckland MP.
“This place has done the world of good for me,” she added. “It’s my safe haven and since I’ve been here I’ve been working in the kitchens and now got a health and safety certificate for working in the kitchen and first aid, so I’ve been able to get myself some qualifications so that I can actually get a job working in catering.”
During the visit, Salvation Army staff discussed the implications of potential UK Government proposals to change the way facilities such as Booth House are funded with Robert Buckland.
The MP also toured the facilities at Booth House, including its two social enterprises – the Sandwich People and recycles. The Sandwich People is a sandwich delivery service which operates in the Swindon area and it gives residents the opportunity to learn business skills. Recycles repairs bicycles which have been donated by members of the public and also services customers’ bicycles.
“It was good to visit Booth House again and meet with service users like Jane, volunteers and frontline staff. The visit provided a good opportunity to discuss the issue of homelessness and to see first-hand what is being done to support people in this vulnerable situation in Swindon, as well as discussing what more can be done” said Robert Buckland MP.
“I welcome Swindon Borough Council's decision to set up a winter shelter at the old Carfax site. Having other support services on hand to help people into accommodation is crucial to ensure that this isn’t merely a short term sticking plaster” added Robert Buckland MP.
Booth House opened in 2007 and its main centre has 50 rooms, as well as five emergency rooms which provide up to three nights’ accommodation.
The centre works with its residents to identify their individual needs and the maximum stay at Booth House is two years.
“It was a pleasure to welcome Robert Buckland to Booth House on Friday and to introduce him to our staff and residents,” said Booth House’s service manager Elizabeth Osborne.
“Booth House is a place where we support people who have experienced homelessness to lead independent and fulfilling lives. “We see the potential in everyone and we provide all our residents with the opportunities and encouragement they need to get them onto the road towards reaching that potential.”
Booth House is located at 1 Spring Close, Swindon, SN1 2BF.
* Not her real name