The Salvation Army Northlands ‘Lifehouse’ has heralded a new start for homeless young people in Cardiff.
More than a hostel, a Lifehouse gives people their lives back by offering activities and training to help improve the self-esteem, mental health and employment prospects.
Delivered by United Welsh, the centre provides much needed support to young people aged between 16 and 25. It is designed to help them achieve successful and sustainable resettlement into appropriate accommodation. The new building has allowed the services delivered to be modernised, providing a dedicated training area for the Salvation Army’s extensive programme to develop skills, confidence, valuable qualifications and voluntary work experience.
The building provides 26 bed spaces (15 rooms for 18 to 25 years, 11 rooms for 16 to 17 years). The 26 bedrooms are arranged over three levels split into cluster arrangements of 4- 6 rooms including those designated for disabled access. Clusters are either self-catering with in-built kitchenettes and a shared lounge, or share a combined living/kitchen/dining room. This approach, together with grouping people by age, is designed to deal with the differing dependencies of young people and reduce bullying. Each cluster can only be accessed by those within that cluster and staff, which is a comfort to young people while encouraging supportive peer relationships.
There has been a focus on providing the facilities on a domestic scale. All bedrooms have en-suite shower rooms brought in as prefabricated ‘pods’ together with study desks and clothes storage, much like many university study bedrooms.
The Northlands Lifehouse provides hope for young people often with nowhere else to turn. The building is more than a place to stay. Support and accommodation work seamlessly together to help young people rebuild their confidence; learn and develop new skills and improve their employment prospects.