A Salvation Army project to house and rehabilitate people experiencing homelessness in Southend has been in danger due to a massive financial shortfall. It seemed the 70 or so people experiencing homelessness in the town would have no choice but to continue sleeping rough. This would throw their chances of successful rehabilitation, including life skills and work preparation, out the window.
At the 11th hour, however, a £100,000 donation from St. Saviour’s Housing Association, has ensured the project will go forward.
Fundraising hits a wall
The Salvation Army, together with Citizens UK and Hill Group housing developers, set up the SHC Partnership to provide low-cost modular homes to people experiencing homelessness, starting in Southend and continuing in other locations around the country.
It was up to the group to raise £5000, which they did with the generous donations of people in the community. It was hoped that the rest of the funding, which amounted to £80,000, would come from Southend Council. Unfortunately, it appeared that this was not to be.
Fortunately, St. Saviour’s Housing Association, a Christian organisation that provided housing to the youth in the area, came to the rescue.
Captain Tracey Bale of the Southend Citadel, said that she received a letter from Andrew Conway at the association, saying that they were closing operations and wanted to donate £100,000 to the church and charity.
Tracey Bale said, “As I read the letter I stood there in shock. But this was confirmation from God that he had the situation in hand and wanted the project to go ahead.”
Commenting on the housing association, Tracey said that it has the same values and aims as The Salvation Army.
It’s a win-win arrangement as Conway said it was confirmation that the association’s work would continue.
With financing secure, the next step is to obtain planning permission so that the partnership can work towards its goal of moving residents into the modular homes towards the end of the year.
Southend ranks eighth on the list of the UK’s worst homelessness hotspots, but Tracey believes that the project will make a big difference and help people experiencing homelessness turn their lives around.
Some of those who will be assisted directly include people previously housed by the local homeless charity, HARP.
“Although people experiencing homelessness were accommodated at the time of the pandemic, the churches who used to work with the night shelter won’t be able to operate in the same way, so they’ll be put back out on the streets,” said Tracey.
She continued, “We want to help them improve their lives, move on and better themselves. What is frustrating is because of the reputation The Salvation Army has as a charity which helps people experiencing homelessness, some expect us to just have homes we can put people into. But our nearest Lifehouse is in Braintree and the others are in London. Some people don’t want to move away. We will be working with residents long-term. That is exciting and fulfilling and I’m looking forward to it.”