The centre can house up to 65 homeless people at a time, with staff being available 24 hours a day to ensure tenants receive assistance, should they need it.
Provided with a clean and warm environment away from the cold and harsh reality of the streets, residents at Swan Lodge can seek to re-establish their lives via participating in life-skill programmes.
Such programmes include pursuing a variety of arts and craft programmes, the centre also providing the residents with a totally equipped kitchen where they can learn to cook.
Swan Lodge also houses a computer suite with an internet connection provided through Learn Direct which offers opportunities for residents to complete online training courses, providing them with confidence and therefore the best chance of success once they leave Swan Lodge.
For resident Gordon Spencer, the lodge provided him with a comfortable environment in which to pick him-self up after a gambling addiction led him to lose his money and his home. Swan Lodge relieved the pressures of homelessness so he could concentrate on improving his life through completing the centres tenancy achievement course which aims to teach tenants how to manage home life after their time at the lodge.
Steven, another resident at the lodge, found himself there through a relationship breakdown and is currently enrolled on the ‘resettlement’ programme where he lives in a room that provides him with his own facilities, including kitchen and bathroom, whilst also completing training to become a mechanic.
Swan Lodge will continue to provide education opportunities and a safe haven for the homeless in the future, with plans to expand the building within the next few years.
Monsoon Kitchen owners, Saif Chaudhry and his brother-in-law opened the popular restaurant in Sunderland six months ago and were keen to help and support the community straight away. ‘We’re trying to do as much for charity, as well as being a business,’ Saif told us.
As Muslims, the brothers follow the Five Pillars of Islam, the third of which, Zakat which roughly translates to ‘that which purifies’ is the compulsory giving of a proportion of one’s wealth to charity inspired them to partner up with Swan Lodge during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar where many Muslims fast from dawn until sunset.
During this month, Monsoon Kitchen donated one meal of lamb curry to the residents of Swan Lodge for every that was eaten in their restaurant. The scheme was a huge success with 338 meals being served to the men and women at the Salvation Army lodge over two seatings.
After the success of the Swan Lodge partnership, Saif and his team have worked with several other organizations over Sunderland and Newcastle providing food to homeless and less fortunate people locally. The brothers are also looking to donate excess food from the restaurant to nearby charities and organisations in the future, in an attempt to decrease their food waste and benefit the local community.