Rotary Club of Belfast

Caring for the Homeless

Salvation Army 10.02.20Guest speakers Stephen Potter and Rioghnach Murphy, in a very well received and appreciated address, spoke to the Club Monday 10 February about the Salvation Army and the Homelessness Services it provides.

Stephen focused on a brief history of the Salvation Army from its formation on the streets of East London in 1865 by the Methodists, William and Catherine Booth with its roots in the abject poverty of the times and determination to fight against social injustice wherever it may be to today’s work with homeless families in NI.

The challenges people were facing in the late 19th Century - homelessness, addiction, loneliness and unemployment - are much the same as today. The Salvation Army has continued its founders' work, tackling issues and working at the heart of communities to offer practical help, unconditional assistance and support to transform lives. Today, The Salvation Army is active in virtually every corner of the world and serves in more than 130 countries.

Rioghnach looked specifically at the work of the homelessness services, focusing on the current Grosvenor Lifehouse project, which they believe helps improve the life chances and make a difference to some of the most vulnerable in society. The Salvation Army operates over 80 Lifehouses across the UK and the Republic of Ireland, so called because they are more than a place to stay. They are places where people can get support with their housing issues and with other aspects of their lives.

She advised that in particular Grosvenor Lifehouse provides shelter for 18 homeless families in Belfast with a vision to support the most vulnerable in Society and to create opportunities for families who quite often feel a sense of hopelessness and despair. She noted that there are around 2,000 families without homes in NI impacting 6,000 children and highlighted the importance of having somewhere for children to play as it is through play, they learn how to interact, self-regulate, the distinction of good from bad etc., as well as developing personally. She stressed that if there is no home there can be no play.

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