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Tobias Ellwood MP visits safe place for seaside town's most vulnerable people

MP Tobias Ellwood

Tobias Ellwood, Member of Parliament for Bournemouth East, visited a Salvation Army project (Friday 30 November) that is providing a safe meeting place and access to additional support for homeless and vulnerable people in Bournemouth.

Boscombe Salvation Army Corps (Church) on Palmerstone Road opened the BH1 community project in a house across from its corps building two years ago. Homeless and vulnerable adults are welcomed to the project, where they can enjoy the coffee bar, relax in comfy sofas, watch TV, read books, play games or visit a subsidised café offering hot and cold food. Other facilities include a laundry, showers, a games and pool room, an activity/music/meeting room and an enclosed garden with seating.

As many as 60 people visit the BH1 Project every day. There, helpful, trained staff offer visitors a listening ear, support and deliver practical help when requested.

Vince (53) has been a BH1 Project service user since it opened, and is an example of how effective, relevant community outreach can support and aid clients in their recovery, combat isolation issues, promote healthy living and positively impact emotional and social well-being.

For 25 years, Vince moved on and off the streets and in and out of addiction – estranged from his family. Two years ago he moved to a bedsit in Boscombe. Vince found safe friendship and company at the BH1 Project, receiving specific help with his debt and finances from trained volunteers and professional drop-in clinics. Ongoing pastoral support has been particularly helpful on days when he is struggling. Vince proudly tends the project’s garden and enjoys being able to help other visitors. BH1 is an integral part of Vince’s life and provides him with a place of safety. He said: “Without BH1, I would be very lonely.”

Tobias Ellwood MP visited the BH1 Project and the corps (church), meeting with corps officers (church leaders) Majors Carelle and Ray Begley, Community Centre Manager Susie Beirne, staff members and service users.

Mr Ellwood said: “Boscombe Corps BH1 Project is a fantastic example of what The Salvation Army does best – giving unconditional practical support to people in need, whatever their background or circumstances. When The Salvation Army began its work in the 1800s, its founder, William Booth, was determined that he would fight for the dignity of those who were most vulnerable. Today, Boscombe Salvation Army is continuing that work by providing the community with access to professional support, a safe environment, and, importantly, a warm welcome.”

In addition to the BH1 Project, Boscombe Corps provides a range of services for the community, including a parent-and-toddler group, an over-60 club, a luncheon club and a successful meal-run for homeless people.

Major Carelle Begley said: “Boscombe Salvation Army is a church with its sleeves rolled up. Each week our volunteers are dedicated in their support to people across a broad spectrum of ages and circumstances in the town. The Salvation Army doesn’t judge or condemn those who find themselves in need of assistance – we’re here to help. We’re pleased Mr Ellwood has had the opportunity to meet with some of our visitors today and to see the way they are being cared for as they deal with their circumstances.”