Potteries-based charity offers support during during tough times
WHEN it comes to tackling problems people would rather not think about, Saltbox is always there to offer support and guidance.
Whether it is helping ex-offenders to resettle in the community, or supporting families battling debt, the charity is committed to improving the welfare of Stoke-on-Trent citizens.
Now based in Hanley, Saltbox was established in Burslem in 1983 by a small group of like-minded Christians who wanted to work to promote Christian values and faith, and also unite individual churches.
It regularly organises conferences and concerts, celebrations and prayer events, and has become a focus for much Christian activity in the region.
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It has also become an information centre and its work has extended to a number of outreach programmes caring for vulnerable people.
Projects include Restart, which is aimed at helping serious criminals get their lives back on track.
It gives people just out of prison somewhere to live, and offers support to steer them away from crime.
The programme has 40 properties around North Staffordshire where its clients are housed. Last year it helped more than 250 offenders aged 21 to 65.
Lloyd Cooke, pictured right, chief executive of Saltbox, said: "The national re-offending rate for prolific ex-offenders is more than 70 per cent. The figure for Restart clients is less than 30 per cent."
Thanks to the success of the programme, Saltbox is looking to extend the service beyond North Staffordshire.
It also wants to expand its Carelink service. The programme includes a befriending service which deals with about 450 calls a week. A small army of more than 20 volunteers mans the phones to ensure vulnerable, elderly and often housebound residents always have someone to call upon in times of need or loneliness. It runs 365 days a year and is able to put clients in touch with the police, NHS or social services. And Saltbox hopes to enhance the service in the future by providing home visits. It already works with a number of residents who are struggling with debt under its Money Matters programme, and as well as tackling financial issues, staff work to ensure the individuals who come to them for help have access to any other support they may need.
Now Saltbox has entered The Sentinel Business Awards in the Community Engagement category, sponsored by The Prince's Charities.
Saltbox's motto is 'strengthening our communities' and hopes its work can extend far beyond the city.
Lloyd said: "Saltbox is often seen as a pioneering, faith-based infrastructure organisation and is often asked for help and advice by other projects. In 2013 Saltbox will continue to assist groups in other towns and cities."