A SWINDON woman with a passion for charities landed her dream job at a centre which helps people who have been homeless to rebuild their lives.

Chloe Kirwan is now in charge of both businesses run by the Salvation Army's Booth House Lifehouse on Spring Close to give its residents work experience and a chance to gain qualifications. The Sandwich People makes sandwiches and buffet food which it sells to local businesses and Swindon residents, while Recycles repairs and sells bicycles that members of the public have donated.

Chloe said: “They learn skills such as money handling; stock management; time-keeping; budgeting and bookkeeping, which are all transferable skills and ones you need to run a small business. The social enterprises also give our residents a sense of purpose, pride in themselves and its part of the transformation that people go through at Booth House Lifehouse as they rebuild their lives.

“I enjoy working with the residents here and seeing how they change and develop as their confidence grows. When you see them getting to that point in their lives when they can move out of Booth House into their own home, it is very rewarding and I enjoy it a lot. My aim now is to let more people know about these social enterprises so we plough any profits we make back into them, so that we can grow the businesses with the ultimate aim of helping more people in Swindon out of homelessness. "

Before starting her role as social enterprise coordinator at Booth House, Chloe worked for the Great Western Hospital as a community and events fundraising manager. She also worked for local company Capita Travel and Events and has been a volunteer with Christmas Care Swindon.

Two Booth House volunteers spoke about their experiences.

Alan volunteers with The Sandwich People. He said: “While I was homeless, The Salvation Army looked after me – they gave me food, clothes and sleeping bags and now I feel I owe a debt to The Salvation Army so I volunteer at Booth House with the Sandwich People. I really enjoy the volunteering and I’ll do anything here that I’m asked to do because they make me feel so welcome. The staff here make me feel so welcome, they’re so helpful and they always go the extra mile and everyone here makes you feel you’re part of something”.

Dave works with Recycles. He said: “I started drinking heavily after my father died and eventually I ended up on the streets. I came to Booth House. There are a lot of decent human beings here who have just fallen on hard times, often through no fault of their own. I’ve never been a person with a lot of confidence, but it’s starting to grow because Recycles is such a chilled working environment. Before this, I’d never had an interest in bicycles, but it has been an absolute revelation to me to take something that’s broken and fix it and then someone comes to the shop and buys the bike you’ve just fixed. That’s just so satisfying and it’s satisfying to me in ways I’ve never felt before.”