When you ask someone to think about the work of The Salvation Army, most often they already understand that the church and charity plays a vital part in helping people who experience homelessness get back on their feet. What they might not know, is that this includes young people as well.
Homelessness can happen to anyone. Among its 80 lifehouses across the UK, The Salvation Army runs a number of centres for younger people too. One of these is Springfield Lodge in south London, which provides accommodation for 40 young people aged 16 to 21.
Springfield Lodge is more than a hostel. It works with young people who have found themselves vulnerable and homeless, and offers accommodation, employment training, education opportunities and life skills, all aimed at giving the residents independence and self-worth.
A few weeks ago, we went along to Springfield Lodge with t-shirt designers, Teeco. The Manchester-based designers specialise in emotive artwork for printed tees and held a special creative workshop with the residents at Springfield Lodge. The idea was for the young people to channel their inspiration and create pieces of art that reflected on how they felt about the Lodge and The Salvation Army.
What came out of the workshop was an overwhelmingly positive and moving tribute to the charity and to Springfield Lodge. Words used included ‘home’, ‘community’, ‘survivor’ with imagery suggesting helping hands and empowerment. Many of the young people said that the staff and fellow residents at Springfield Lodge were their family; that the centre holds love and a brighter future for them.
Seven of the residents submitted designs on the day of the workshop and each one was printed onto a t-shirt and presented to them yesterday (27 July). Some of the designs were so good that we now hope to use the best ones to inspire a range that will be sold through The Salvation Army’s charity shops to raise money for helping vulnerable young people.
Wendy Pearson (left) and Jamie Petrie (right) presenting Springfield Lodge's centre manager Ivan Congreve (centre) with the t-shirts.