The Salvation Army’s Swan Lodge Lifehouse for homeless men has received the third award in quick succession for its outstanding services. The first, a Sunderland Business Portfolio Award, won for the Centre’s service to the community, was won in October, the second, an Open College Network Award for their tenancy move-on programme, was won in November and now the Lifehouse can add to the haul further recognition of its tenancy achievement programme in the What’s On 4 Me Awards.
“It’s incredible to get this recognition,” said Christine Ritchie, Centre Manager of The Salvation Army Lifehouse. “We just come into work every day trying to do our best, and to be considered, let alone win, these accolades is a real honour.”
“I have an incredible team that I couldn’t do this job without,” she continued. “It’s particularly satisfying to be recognised for our work encouraging our clients to become independent, because that’s really at the heart of how we help people move on with their lives into a tenancy, work and back into society again.”
The Salvation Army, as a Church and Charity that cares for isolated and vulnerable people in society, prides itself on its ethos of helping the whole person – that is, not just treating a symptom of their issues but giving that person the skills, support and spiritual assistance necessary to permanently give them their independence back.
This is exemplified through the tenant training programme that OCN North East Region recognised in their award to the Centre, and the What’s On 4 Me Awards recognised by awarding tutor Sonia Ritchie-Park the Best Skills/Learning Provider Award for the programme delivered exclusively at the centre. The programme consists of around twenty units, from parenting to budget skills, citizenship to cooking, of which residents are able to select twelve.
Running first for a pilot year, the programme has since been in place for two years, has a 100% success rate, and a 98% retention rate – meaning only one individual who has gone on to gain a tenancy off the back of it has returned to Swan Lodge. As a result, Swan Lodge’s positive move-on rate, (that is, people moving onto tenancies and not returning to the Lifehouse) is 93.5%.
Louise Morritt, Chief Executive of OCN North East Region, was deeply impressed with the programme - “Since we started these awards in 2009, our aim has been to showcase the diversity and strength of the organisations we work with in the voluntary and community sector. Swan Lodge certainly demonstrates these qualities.”
She continued, “The ethos of the centre is clearly one of support, training and belief in dealing with the whole of a person. Their work is inspiring.”
What’s on 4 Me owner Marilyn Bradshaw added, “We’re thrilled that we can provide such an important platform to reward such vital work as the tenancy assistance programme at Swan Lodge. The programme is an outstanding example of how the homelessness cycle can be broken by belief, training and investment in tenants.”
Concluding, she said, “Swan Lodge is totally dedicated to making a difference to people’s lives, and we at What’s On 4 Me are proud to be associated with them.”