SIFA survives

Community rallies round to support vital homelessness charity.

Leading homeless charity, SIFA Fireside, has seen its share of challenges in recent months, but the generosity of local businesses and the public has seen donations flood in.

Midlands water company, Severn Trent, donated £15,000 to support the changes the service needed to make to reopen safely after its initial closure during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Following the safe reopening of the service in June, last week, Severn Trent CEO, Liv Garfield was able to visit the to see the changes first-hand. Liv toured the building, visited the new lending library and saw how a full holistic approach is taken to recovery, along with the importance of establishing an identity outside of being homeless.

Discussions were held around employment opportunities, breaking down barriers and how to find innovative new ways to partner with a leading Midland business.

On the visit, Liv said: “Genuinely inspirational. It’s clear to see the team are feeding the souls of their clients as well as their bodies. Really impressed as to how the services have adapted to the COVID world and I’m glad to have been able to help make a difference.”

Providing the main day centre for homeless and vulnerably housed adults in Birmingham, SIFA Fireside see over 3,000 vulnerable adults attend each year. The services provided prevent homelessness and support those who are homeless by meeting their immediate and long-term needs.

Carly Jones, SIFA Fireside CEO explains: “When the pandemic hit in March, we knew it could hit us and our clients hard, so we had to act fast. We had to close our Drop-In but continued to retain skeleton staff in the building to support crisis presentations – this is where Severn Trent’s funding was vital.

“To do this, we had to invest a lot of time and money to obtain the correct PPE for our staff and clients, alongside hand sanitiser, cleaning products and additional signage. We also supplied laptops, Ipads and mobile phones to our clients so that we could remain in contact. This allowed us to conduct 200 safe and well checks each week throughout lockdown.”

Carole Wildman, SIFA Fireside Chair added: “We had to space out our Drop-In and offices to ensure clients and staff were able to return and safely distance. We revised the services and expanded our 1-1 sessions; whilst adding additional, accessible phone services.

“The generosity shown by Severn Trent, our volunteers and supporters has been absolutely phenomenal, and we can thank everyone enough for their continued support.”

The daily Drop-In service is vital to emergency presentations and those rough sleeping. It provides a warm, safe place to access vital housing services, immediate practical support, hot meals and showers.

To find out more about SIFA Fireside and the work they do across the city, visit or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.