Reading Borough Council has commissioned The Salvation Army to provide the new "Intensive and Engaging Service".
The new service offers increased accommodation spread across two sites - Willow House and Shepton House.
At Willow House and Shepton House there is a Hub drop in where professional service congregate to offer support to people experiencing homelessness. There are emergency night shelter beds referred to as sit up beds, Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP) beds and Emergency/Assessment beds. This is alongside the existing rooms.
At Shepton House there are a further 20 rooms providing accommodation.
The vision of The Salvation Army and Reading Borough Council is to respond faster and with more flexibility to homelessness and rough sleeping in Reading. The increased bed spaces coupled with sit and emergency beds will allow us to move people from the streets to accommodation with greater speed.
To achieve these works there is a large scale refurbishment of both centres. Staff are also busy working on developing our group work and activity programme.
Each resident entering Willow House and Shepton House is able to choose a key worker. The key worker seeks to work in cooperation with the resident to put them at the centre of their care and support. This is achieved through joint support planning, use of tools such as the outcome star and multi agency working.
Alongside key work Willow House and Shepton House offers an activity programme. Our activity programme varies according to the ambitions of our residents. Some of our standard activities include;
- Contact point (social meetings)
- Cooking classes
- Resident meetings discussing all levels of decision for the service
- Gardening in our renovated garden area where residents grow their own fruit and vegetable
- Pool, Chess and other game tournaments
- Use of our newly fitted out gym
We work closely with The Salvation Army Church Reading Central, located across the roundabout from Willow House and Shepton House. From Reading Central our staff deliver a specialist group programme based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy called the Change programme. The Change programme is there to help our residents examine their thinking patterns and learn tools to help them make adjustments and raise personal awareness of their own thinking patterns.
From Reading Central we also deliver an Employment Plus Local that helps residents to build their digital literacy and to gain skills for work.
We also deliver our emergency winter night shelter - SWEP from Reading Central, accommodating Readings most vulnerable homeless people in the coldest of periods.
Plans are underway to develop a Debt Advice Service at Reading Central. This service will greatly assist our residents who often find themselves financially disadvantaged.
Chaplaincy is an essential part of life at Willow House and Shepton House. We are fortunate to have a full time Salvation Army Officer who is leading us in exploring faith and making God available to all in our care.