Homeless centre is where the heart is as staff rally to battle against snow

A team who help Sunderland's homeless men and women have been championed after ensuring round-the-clock care continued during the bitter weather.

Thursday, 1st March 2018, 5:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st March 2018, 6:15 pm
Residents of Swan Lodge built a snowman as they took shelter in its accommodation.

The Salvation Army Swan Lodge Lifehouse in High Street East is up to capacity as it does its best to keep people off the streets of the city.

Its staff of 20 already work 24 hours a day to ensure those most in need are supported, with the colleagues in for praise from their boss as they go the extra mile to ensure the service still runs during the awful weather conditions.

The Salvation Army Swan Lodge Lifehouse in High Street East.

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They have put in extra hours and gone to the aid of their teammates, with the workers helped into the centre by Sean Robson, the partner of service manager Christine Ritchie.

Sean, a tutor with Bright Sparks, which runs wild camping and other activities as people find their feet again, has been using his 10-year-old Jeep to get staff members to and from their shifts.

The centre has accommodation for 65 men or women, as well as a 'crash pad' kitted out with bed settees and emergency camp beds for people referred to the service.

The Salvation Army also has a seven-flat base in Toward Road.

The Salvation Army Swan Lodge Lifehouse in High Street East.

All are filled at the moment as it works to keep people out of the cold, with the service working with Sunderland City Council to help those in need.

Christine said: "People come to us with all sorts of issues, be it drugs, alcohol, relationship problems, mental health, whatever it is, Swan Lodge is here for them.

"This amazing, beautiful weather has had quite an extensive affect on us and my partner has an old Jeep, which is a 4x4 and has lots of other things added to it, which he's been able to use to pick up and drop off staff.

"He has been going around and has been able to get up roads others would struggle with.

"There isn't anybody in the world who should be out on the streets, but there's absolutely no way anyone should be out in this.

"The staff have been amazing, they've come in, stayed late and that's what happens isn't it, when something like this happens?

"Everybody knits together to help.

"There's no good moaning about it, we pull together as a team."

Christine has said as the bad weather falls away, the lodge will be in need of supplies to restock.

While it welcomes donations of all sorts, it is particularly expecting a need for towels and toiletries, especially sanitary products for the women it helps.

Anyone who would like to help can contact the team on (0191 565 5411.

Christine has said anyone who wants to seek advice on homeless services can access https://www.streetlink.org.uk/.