At The Salvation Army we’re preparing for the future by transforming all of our hostels into Lifehouses. A Lifehouse is a place where everything is geared around residents developing purpose and relationships - accommodation just comes with it and isn't the focus. For instance, our partnership with "Goals UK" means self-esteem training will be standard. Also, through our Animateur programme which is funded by the Future Jobs Fund, we employ young people from the job centre to organise fun activities and community projects which benefit the local area as well as the residents of the Lifehouse. The aim of our Lifehouses is to help residents find purpose and, ultimately, to get their life back. The name ‘Lifehouse’ was chosen by our residents and staff, in a nationwide poll, and it tells us that they understand that the work of a homelessness centre is driven by life journeys and not just journeys into housing. The new focus of our services echoes the Salvation Army’s belief in giving people a ‘hand up’ rather than a ‘hand out’. Back in 1865 when William Booth founded The Salvation Army he was quoted as describing how the support he was providing to an individual was a two way exchange, “so much warmth and light from me but so much labour in return from him”. We weren’t about hand-outs then and we aren’t now. In many ways the spirit of the lifehouse is not just taking us back to Booth’s core principles but also back to the work of charities before Supporting People (SP) was introduced. Don’t get me wrong, the SP programme has had a huge impact in raising the quality of homelessness services but, in some senses, it’s inadvertently created an entitlement culture where we’ve forgotten some of our core values. We now just expect SP funding and a vast percentage of providers rely almost entirely upon it. We need to think creatively and accept that budgets will be cut and funding will be harder to come by but we must not let this get in our way. A prime example is our Lifehouse in Skegness, Witham Lodge, which used to face a tremendous amount of opposition from the local community. Now, however, the same people who called for our closure are walking into the Lifehouse and asking for help. Why? Because our residents are decorating houses for people with disabilities; helping older people with their gardening and developing projects that benefit the whole community. To fund these activities staff and clients held car boot sales and raised the money themselves. Remember those days? We’re entering a new era of austerity and it may just be the wake up call that reminds us of why we’re here… Charities need to fill the gap and help those with no recourse to public funds - it's our job when there's no state funding isn't it? And fun activities are always hard to fund, so again, that's our job. We need to get out of the mid-set of being just government sub-contractors. After all, we are more than a support service, we are social entrepreneurs. *In mid October 2010, Maff Potts will be leaving the Salvation Army to take up the role of Chief Executive at Novas Scarman.
(CNN) -- Donations to the country's 400 biggest charities plunged last year by 11 percent, the worst decline since the Chronicle of Philanthropy started ranking the fundraising organizations two decades ago. The Chronicle's Philanthropy 400 rankings show six of the top 10 charities reported declines in donations, including the United Way Worldwide and the Salvation Army.
Helen said: "The recession is definitely having an impact on homelessness. There are a lot of people finding themselves in this position because there isn't any work." The recession has seen an increase in repossessions, the beginning of a downward spiral for many. The Council of Mortgage Lenders show repossessions are now 15 per cent higher than in 2008 - and arrears are three per cent higher. Overall, repossessions are six times higher than in 2003.
Graeme Brown is the...
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