The visit came as the Department for Work and Pensions announced £3m in funding for jobcentre staff to work with homeless people
A DWP minister commended the work of The Salvation Army’s work in helping rough sleepers get their lives back on track, including finding work. All support is individually tailored to their personal needs and job goals.
Under Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, Baroness Deborah Stedman-Scott said: “I’ve known The Salvation Army for many years and think of them as the fourth emergency service – they are there when you really are in trouble.”
Baroness Stedman-Scott was joined on the visit by the Minister for Welfare Delivery Will Quince MP to The Salvation Army’s Riverside Complex in east London. The centre provides a second-chance for women rough sleepers. They heard from residents about how they are rebuilding their lives with the support of the church and charity’s homelessness support service and Employment Plus programme, which helps people get the skills needed to find a job.
Riverside Complex in Tower Hamlets provides housing for 80 women along with support to help them tackle the reasons they ended up on the streets. These can range from mental ill health, addictions, domestic violence or sex work.
Marcia*, has lived at Riverside for nine months after spending five years sleeping rough. The 39-year-old lives with mental ill health and struggles with addictions. Since coming to The Salvation Army her mental health has stabilised and she has been able to get support to manage her addictions. Her fresh start now sees her looking for work and she’s started writing her first ever CV. Marcia told the ministers: “The staff here are amazing – they take time to really listen to you. Everything they do to help is done from the heart with a passion.”
More people like Marcia need our help which is why The Salvation Army is calling on the Government to make additional investment in services that join up support for rough sleepers in finding employment and tackling the many reasons that lead to their homelessness. We want to the Government go further in their commitment to providing specialist, tailored support and also making the process of applying for and receiving Universal Credit easier for people.
Helen Wilson, Riverside Complex Service Manager said: “We were delighted to show the ministers around and explain the different stages of support we provide at Riverside from a more ‘hands on’ approach when residents first arrive, to helping them begin to live independently in supported housing, and then preparing them for a home of their own.
“We know that solving someone’s immediate basic need of a place to live is the vital first step. We also recognise that everyone goes at their own pace and will have different wants and needs when it comes to overcoming their homelessness and the reasons they were on the streets, some of which may be traumatic or deeply ingrained.”
The Salvation Army has a long history of helping people find steady employment so they can lead independent and fulfilling lives. Its supported accommodation centres, like the Riverside Centre are known as lifehouses because they offer more than a safe place to stay. Residents are supported by a range of courses and activities which include job hunting, cookery classes and household budgeting. They also get advice on how to keep a tenancy which is an important part of breaking the cycle of homelessness.
Will Quince MP said: “This has been a fantastic visit not only to meet the residents but also to see the incredible work that The Salvation Army does supporting those experiencing homelessness and rough sleeping and giving them that wrap-around support. I am really keen for us to give more support to those who are already doing so much to support vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.”
At Riverside, our Employment Development Co-ordinator talked the ministers through the process of helping someone get started on the road to employment. From getting their identity documents in order, such as their national insurance number and birth certificate, to helping with job applications and preparing for an interview, women are supported at each step.
Rebecca Keating, Director of Employment Services for The Salvation Army said: “We welcome the £3m investment announced by the Government last week to help homeless people access essential benefits but it is not enough to break the cycle of homelessness. Accessing benefits is not enough to prevent someone from sleeping on the streets, you must help them recover from the reasons they ended up rough sleeping in the first place. We need to make sure employment support for homeless people is linked to other support services like health, counselling and employment and skills training.”
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Notes to Editors
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The Salvation Army is an international Christian church and registered charity which has been transforming lives for more than 150 years. Working in 131 countries worldwide, The Salvation Army offers friendship, practical help and support for people at all levels of need. In the UK and Republic of Ireland this work includes more than 750 community churches and social centres. Registered Charity Nos. 214779, 215174 and in Scotland SC009359, SC037691. For more information visit the website www.salvationarmy.org.uk
The Salvation Army is calling on the Government to:
- Make additional investment in services that join up support for rough sleepers in finding employment and tackling the many reasons that lead to their homelessness, like mental ill health, addictions and problems keeping a tenancy
- Go further in providing specialist, tailored support so that people can easily make and continue their claim for Universal Credit through the online system.
- The Salvation Army urges the Government to release and consult on a detailed plan of how they intend to ensure the Government’s manifesto commitment of £500m to support disadvantaged people with the skills they need to make a success of life and ensure that money is spent efficiently and effectively.