An education program for homeless and displaced people is getting Blackpool’s most vulnerable residents back into the community.
The Salvation Army’s Bridge Project has adapted its offering to people, putting on training and education workshops every morning.
It’s a move away from the “soup and a shower” method.
Bev Taylor, Bridge Project programme manager, said: “Rather than opening as a drop-in in the morning we’re putting education on.
“We’ve a number of structured programmes going on, including budgeting, communication skills, job applications, healthy eating and teamwork.
“Our feeling was that although people need us we need to get to the bottom of the issues rather than just keep providing food for them.”
The classes are open for up to 15 people each morning, between 9.30am and 11.30am, and learners work towards certificates, with some courses being accredited.
Mrs Taylor added: “It’s been really successful so far, we’ve had quite high numbers coming in and we’ve got a reserve list because there’s so many people interested.”
Funding for the classes has come from the Talbot ward budget, targeted to provide education in the most deprived areas.
And the scheme has been backed by Blackpool Council whose staff are delivering the courses.
Coun Sarah Riding, cabinet member with responsibility for education, said: “These courses will help people who visit the Salvation Army to gain some really important life skills.
“So far the classes have been well attended and are providing people with good opportunities to learn new things to help them improve their lives.”
Mrs Taylor added: “There’s a lot of people there who want to work but are struggling to get jobs.
“We’ve seen a real difference in people, they’re starting to come out of their shells, it’s fantastic.
“There’s good success stories of people who’ve bettered their lives with our help.”
Salvation Army adapts its services
The Bridge Project at the Citadel on Raikes Parade is still offering support services in the afternoon, including a laundry, showers and drug and alcohol services.
Bev Taylor, Bridge Project programme manager, said: “We have wide range of people who use our services, maybe people who’ve been homeless who’ve settled into a property and are struggling with budgeting.
“We’ve got people who may have come out of prison who need support with everyday life in the community. Now [through the courses] people are coming who genuinely need help and we’re able to work in depth with them.”
The Bridge Project staff and volunteers work with up to 60 people each day, acting as mentors to point people in the direction of services to help them and provide basic human needs including food, clothing and showers.
Anyone interested in volunteering or donating to the Bridge Project can contact Bev on (01253) 626 114.