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Transformed garden helps residents experiencing homelessness and addiction

The Salvation Army has unveiled a new therapeutic garden at its Vale Street Lifehouse in Stoke-on-Trent that will help rehabilitate people experiencing homelessness and addiction.

The Penny Dreadfuls, a local band, produced a charity Christmas CD last year to support the work of the 64-bed centre with more than £1300 being donated.

The money raised went towards developing the garden at the Lifehouse. Residents can now enjoy a more vibrant and relaxing outdoor space that includes a chicken coup, a tree dedicated to an ex-member of staff and peaceful seating areas.

Sue Prince, The Salvation Army’s activities programme co-ordinator, said: “Our residents have been really excited about showing this garden to everyone. It’s their garden, they’ve helped develop it and they keep it tidy and ship-shape.

“The garden provides an area of calmness and residents can find a quiet spot to relax and contemplate, or talk to their support worker. Caring for animals, such as the hens, also provide a welcome focus for some residents, who need structure and purpose to their day.”

David Maxfield, manager of The Salvation Army’s Lifehouse, said: “We want to encourage more partnership with the local community and would love to welcome more volunteers.

“Our Lifehouse doesn’t just offer accommodation for people experiencing homelessness - we offer training and courses to equip our residents with skills and confidence so they can go on to lead independent and fulfilling lives as members of their local community.

“If anyone has an interest in helping with English, maths or music lessons, cookery teaching or driving residents to appointments or activities, we’d love to hear from you.

“Your skills are valuable and the rewards of supporting others are immense – volunteers often tell us that they receive much more than they give.” Anyone interested in volunteering at the Lifehouse should contact Marcus Asbury on 01782 744374 or email marcus.asbury@salvationarmy.org.uk.

All volunteers would be required to complete a volunteering application form. The process would also include having satisfactory references and depending on the volunteering role they wish to apply, would need to have a DBS check, which would be free of charge.

Director of The Salvation Army homelessness services, Mitch Menagh said: “Our business at the Salvation Army Lifehouse is about transformation. Staff are doing that walking our residents through some very tough journeys. The cycle of homelessness is being broken here, but it takes time, with lots of compassion, love and support.

The Salvation Army will be out in force this month to help fund-raise for people facing poverty, homelessness, isolation and modern slavery. Members and friends of churches across Stoke-on-Trent Salvation Army will be collecting to raise money for the Christian church and charity’s network of social and community services around the UK and Ireland.

All collectors carry a permit and Salvation Army-branded envelopes or collection tins. Donations can also be made online www.salvationarmy.org.uk/BigCollection

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