More families turning to Salvation Army for help as recession bites

Rob Matthews, 28, with Jenny Michie, 38, and their one-year-old daughter Sakura
Rob Matthews, 28, with Jenny Michie, 38, and their one-year-old daughter Sakura
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ROB Matthews and Jenny Michie never thought they would have a family home to call their own.

They were at rock bottom when they turned up with their baby daughter at a Salvation Army hostel after the pressures of living at Rob’s parents’ home became too much.

But help was at hand – and just 10 months after becoming homeless they are unpacking their things in a new house on Stella Road, Buckland.

The predicament that Rob, 28, Jenny, 38, and their one-year-old daughter Sakura found themselves in is one that is becoming more and more common as the recession bites.

The Salvation Army says it is seeing a growing number of families in need turning to the organisation for food and clothing packages and space in hostels.

Rob and Jenny were put up at Catherine Booth House, a hostel in Aylward Street, Portsea, when they turned to the Salvation Army for help.

Staying there gave the family breathing space and enough time to be able to set up on their own.

Rob said: ‘It was very difficult when we were living with my parents.

‘There wasn’t much space which led to a lot of arguments and we found it difficult to establish our own family.

‘But when we moved into Catherine Booth we had much more space and we got lots of support.

‘I learned how to cook and better ways to care for my daughter and there was always someone to talk to.

‘And now we’ve moved into our own place, which is still a bit daunting because there is so much more responsibility, but it feels like a big achievement.

‘We never thought we would have our own home this time last year.’

Although the Salvation Army does not record official statistics, it says it has felt an increase in demand for services in parts of the UK – one of which is Portsmouth.

A spokeswoman for the charity said: ‘This has been a particularly hard year for many people.

‘In parts of the country this has resulted in an increase in requests for food parcels, housing assistance, demand at our charity shops and general support.

‘The Salvation Army has supported those who have lost their job and don’t know where to turn, those who have lost their home and ended up on the street, those who are older and lonely, and families struggling to get by in real poverty.’

In a bid to tackle this issue, workers at Catherine Booth House recently launched a Mending Broken Lives campaign, which aims to help those struggling with home life.

As well as offering support to those in need, the scheme also teaches men, women and families essential life and social skills, from cooking and sports to budgeting.