Salvation Army launches “life-changing” program to former prisoners
The Salvation Army Melbourne has launched a new program providing a beacon of hope for former prisoners left without a home or a family to “get back on their feet”.
The program called People Going Beyond (PGB), will offer a range of support services to people being released from prison so that they are “given every opportunity to re-build their lives,” including housing, counselling, training and employment supports, according to Salvation Army Major Brendan Nottle, who runs the Project 614 café in Bourke St.
Speaking at the launch of the program at the Victoria Trades Hall Council on May 10, Mr Nottle said PGB would be an exciting extension to the current Salvos 614 Magpie Nest Housing Project, a partnership with the Collingwood Football Club Foundation that provides stable and affordable accommodation to the community’s most vulnerable.
“The idea is that we’re working very closely with the prison chaplains who build relationships with people who are about to finish their sentence,” he said, adding the concept was based on the Prison Gate Brigade program that The Salvation Army launched 140 years ago on December 8, 1883, in Carlton.
We’re then going to work with individuals to help them find their own accommodation, it might be within the Magpie Nest program, it might be another agency, or it might be private rental.
Construction grant Hickory, which has 16 projects under way in Melbourne including Melbourne Walk, the redevelopment of the Bourke Street Mall, has also thrown its support behind PGB, saying it would be an opportunity to create a skilled workforce.
Salvation Army commissioner Miriam Gluyas said she was “very proud” to officially declare the program open during the launch, which included performances by the Salvation Army brass band, and Jerson Trinidad, who sang a rendition of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song.
Ms Gluyas spoke movingly of a young woman who was in a “desperate situation” after being imprisoned four times, until she turned her life around after receiving critical support.
The woman now works in tourism, leading a team of eight people in New South Wales.
“I thought in that story everything comes together: someone met her and was able to meet the needs that she had, she got housing, she got help, she got a family, she got a job, and her life changed completely; that’s what we’re here for.” •