Supporting Croydon’s homeless people with the Salvation Army

By - Friday 8th June, 2018

How volunteering at Croydon’s the Well project has led to a greater understanding of what it means to be human

Photo public domain.

The Well is the name of an inspirational homeless project run by the Salvation Army (S/A), in conjunction with other services, every Monday out of the S/A community hall in Croydon. The Well was brought into being by an ex-homeless person teaming up with the S/A to provide the resources that were lacking and necessary to allow homeless people and those affected by homelessness the support to be able to move forward in their lives. Homelessness can affect anyone – and it does. There is no stereotypical image, these are people who have just hit extraordinarily hard times.

The Well aims to provide a safe space and shelter for all of its guests, and the project is led by the S/A Croydon community care manager, backed up with huge dedication from the two Croydon S/A officers in charge – alongside a fantastic group of volunteers. Many volunteers are Salvationists, yet all the volunteers are faith-based in compassion and care.

The Well itself provides food, showers and clothes, along with empathic engagers who listen with warmth and understanding, and who have the knowledge to be able to direct and guide the guests forward in their lives when and if necessary. It is said that ‘listening is the greatest gift that we can give anyone’, and very often this is the all-important thing that is needed for a guest to feel seen, heard and valued.

Lack of work or losing a job goes hand-in-hand with homelessness

Alongside the Well’s provision, there are great teams from the Croydon community which join the Well every Monday.

Very often lack of work or losing a job comes hand-in-hand, or contributes to, homelessness and so the Well is joined by a hard-working Croydon Job Centre Plus outreach worker who is on hand to assess and deal with each individual’s case.

Crisis moved into their Croydon-based offices last year and join the Well every Monday, providing housing, health, education and employment advice. Crisis also run an art table as therapy, which is very popular and lovely to see… there are a good few unknown artists emerging in Croydon! Also on board are the Croydon homeless outreach team, who go out, locate, and verify people sleeping rough on the street.

The Well offers a way to address the many issues homelessness can bring

Croydon-based Rainbow Health Centre provide a nurse for the guests to see each week and a mobile TB clinic comes regularly. Also Croydon’s drug and alcohol help team Turning Point are available to work with our guests. Being homeless can bring about mental health issues for those who may already be feeling vulnerable. The Well offers a way to address the many issues homelessness can bring – and in many cases a way forward that can hopefully avoid the pitfalls a homeless person can encounter. The Well’s motto is “giving a hand up, not a hand out”. All the work and interaction done at the Well is born out of a deep understanding that sees each guest as a whole individual with many capabilities, and who is worthy of respect and dignity. The project is now in its ninth year of operation.

I feel proud and blessed to be a part of this team. Being a volunteer at the Well allows me to serve my community, which is an important thing for me to do as part of my own wellbeing. When I first joined, I was surprised by the warmth and laughter that I saw and heard taking place. I now see that where love is in action, humanity thrives.

If you would like to support this amazing project, please contact ; for up-to-date news from the Salvation Army and for its other events, see Croydon Citadel Salvation Army on Facebook.



RAC is a volunteer at the Well in Croydon. She is remaining anonymous as required by her role.

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