A homeless health and wellbeing hub in Blackburn has seen more than 200 people access a free hot breakfast in the last month as well as healthcare services.

The Salvation Army has worked together with Blackburn with Darwen Council and Lancashire-based health organisations to create the health and wellbeing service for the town’s most vulnerable people, including rough sleepers, sofa surfers and people in temporary accommodation.

The health hub opened in March and acts as a one-stop shop for every service that people experiencing homelessness may need, bringing together an optician, hepatitis C nurse, housing needs team from the council and a substance misuse team all under one easy-to-access roof.

Clients can also access a clothing bank, washing machine and drier, showering facilities, emergency food parcels and a warm and safe space.

The Salvation Army refurbished an unused four bedroom house within the grounds of its Lifehouse (hostel), Bramwell House, located on Heaton Street to create the health hub, known locally as Phoenix Hub.

Toni Scott, programme manager at The Salvation Army’s Bramwell House, first set up the Phoenix Hub when she realised that homeless people in the area needed organisations to come to them because often they find it difficult to stick to appointments due to their vulnerability.

She said: “We wanted to bring health and social care professionals right into the heart of the community, to provide a one-stop well-being shop to the people who need it the most, allowing them to see themselves as people of the community and not living with the label of homelessness. 

“Importantly the hub isn’t based in a formal or clinical setting, it’s located in a street among houses and businesses where clients can feel relaxed and safe, engaging in the various services when they feel comfortable to.

“Being homeless already means your mental and physical health are likely to be at risk so it is important they get the person-centred care needed to help rebuild their lives, which we pride ourselves on being able to offer.

“We’re just people helping people, believing that everyone deserves a chance and ensuring that no one is forgotten about.”

The hub is open three days a week, Tuesday from 9am to 12pm, Wednesday from 9am to 4pm and Thursday 12pm to 4pm.

Breakfast is available on a Wednesday morning and has on average supported 50 people each week in the last month with a hot breakfast alone, before they go on to access health services.

Access to the hub is via Clayton Street and was initially set up through a £3,000 starter loan from Spark and Red Rose Recovery, part of the Blackburn with Darwen council recovery collaborative. The provision is now solely funded by donations to The Salvation Army’s Bramwell House. 

The Salvation Army has a Just Giving page, dedicated specifically to its work with homeless people in Blackburn which can be found at https://www.justgiving.com/page/phoenix-hub-the-salvation-army.