Homelessness is an issue which is close to my heart. In Birmingham, where the rate of homelessness has increased by 2,000% since 2009/10 – up from 157 cases then to 3,479 last year, there are many people experiencing homelessness in our city. I was really pleased when Melissa, Fundraising & Corporate Partnerships Manager for Sifa Fireside agreed to meet me so I could find out more about the amazing work the organisation undertakes to improve the health and wellbeing of homeless people as well as offering many additional services within the drop in centre at SIFA Fireside.
Sifa Fireside formed in 2007 and opens their doors 7 days a week. On a daily basis they provide a drop in service for homeless people and those who are vulnerably housed. I was surprised by the amount of different services they provide under one roof. On arrival each person reports to reception where they can have their post delivered to. They are then sent to an advisor who assesses their needs. They can have a meal, take a shower, wash their clothes, have a haircut, see the dentist,get expert legal advice and so much more! During an average month they serve 3,404 meals, provide over 100 people with clothing and 429 people use their shower facilities.
As well as catering for basic needs, Sifa Fireside is a safe place for people to go along to socialise with each other. Even well-behaved dogs are allowed. As well as talking over meals, playing board games and borrowing books, people can take part in many different workshops such as crafts and music. During a music workshop a few years ago a band formed who now lead workshops and play fundraising gigs.
All this incredible work couldn’t be possible without the help of staff and dedicated volunteers. They are always looking for volunteers and they continually rely on donations of food, clothing and financial support to keep the charity operating.