“Like its namesake, Mount Tabor, Tabor House is a place of transformation and change, a place where nothing is too big or too hopeless to deal with. And we believe that if we work together, things can change.”
Speaking at the official launch of Birmingham’s new homeless shelter, Fr Michael White, Chair of Caritas Archdiocese of Birmingham, addressed over a hundred guests who had come to witness the opening of a very special place.
Tabor House is Birmingham’s only permanent night shelter, supporting vulnerable, destitute men and women. It offers guests a hot meal, breakfast, a shower and safe shelter from the cold, desolate streets. As well as shelter and food, it supports guests to access services that will enable them to regain control of their lives and take steps towards finding more permanent accommodation.
Tabor House offers support to move on
Guests can stay for three nights or for 28 nights. Those who stay for the longer period are matched with a mentor who will provide one-to-one support to help them access services that will help them turn their lives around, moving off the streets and into more permanent accommodation. Tabor House is the first shelter in the country taking a strength-based approach, where volunteers and staff focus on the skills and ambitions of guests, as opposed to the problems or deficits they may have.
As one member of staff said, “We focus on what’s right with you, rather than what’s wrong with you.”
To mark the opening of this new facility, a launch event was held at St Anne’s RC Church in Digbeth to coincide with World Homeless Day. Small groups of invited guests were given tours of the new facility by some of the staff and volunteers. Among them were West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, representatives of West Midlands Police, homelessness specialists, volunteers, members of the clergy, local press and others.
Speaking at the event, Mayor Andy Street said, “The wonderful thing about Tabor House is not only does it give accommodation for a number of days or weeks, but during that time the residents will have support to rebuild their lives so they can go into permanent accommodation.
“It’s that positive approach about rebuilding that’s so special about what we see here today. It really is an outstanding place and a credit to iShelter and the team of charities that have come together to form this.”
Fr Michael White, Chair of Caritas Archdiocese of Birmingham, one of the organisations behind Tabor House, said, “It looks like a dormitory and, in a way, it is. The people we’re dealing with are some of the most vulnerable and destitute people in the city. Some of them are afraid to go to hostels because of the bullying that can take place in hidden spaces. They like the openness of Tabor House. And all through the night we’ll have volunteers here, watching over our guests.”
A hand up, not a handout
Guests will be referred to Tabor House by the charities SIFA Fireside and Midland Heart. At the end of their stay nobody will be sent back to the streets – the staff and partner organisations will ensure they have somewhere to go.
Shelter, hot food, a shower and mentoring are some of the practical aspects of Tabor House that guests will benefit from. As well as this, they will be treated with respect and friendship as they take steps to gain control over their lives. Fr Michael said, “Often, one thing that is lacking is warmth and respect in their lives. We hope that they will find that here.”
Following the tours, Fr Michael thanked everyone who attended and showed their support. He thanked the partner organisations, funders and volunteers who helped bring Tabor House into being, and spoke of the constant call to help people move on, urging people to stay steadfast as there is still much to do.
Tabor House is a partnership between Midland Heart, Father Hudson’s Care, Housing Justice, Birmingham Irish Association, St Vincent de Paul Society, the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham, corporate philanthropists, and other local homelessness specialists. Together we have formed iShelter—a new homelessness organisation that aims to help homeless people turn their lives around.
How to get involved
To find out more about Tabor House, visit the Tabor House page on this website. If you are interested in volunteering or would like to donate any items, please contact Christy Acton, Father Hudson’s Deputy Community Projects Manager, on 01675 434064 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.