Decorated shoes help homeless put best foot forward with mental health

A group of homeless people in Warrington are choosing to express themselves through the power of art and creativity.

Residents at The Salvation Army’s Lifehouse (hostel) in Warrington have picked up their paint brushes, and unintentionally also their confidence, and have created a range of decorated shoes in a bid to boost their mental health, using art as therapy.

James Lee House, located on Brick Street within the town, has a strong programme of activities for its residents, all with a creative spin following research that art has therapeutic benefits. The art sessions also allow residents to develop their strengths, believe in themselves and strive to release their potential in everything they choose to take part in.

Assistant Support Worker Debbie Lyon, who is also a freelance art teacher and is behind the idea said: “We wanted to create a positive activity that allowed residents to explore their creativity and escape their experiences whilst also having fun at the same time.
“Every pair of shoes has a story to tell, they have changed people’s lives in some way and have been a part of someone’s story at one point. Some may have belonged to refugees, business workers, single parents or children and might have been one step away from finding themselves in landfill but we have stopped that, recycling them and using them as a positive outlet to boost mental health which is so important for everyone, especially those that have experienced such crisis in their lives as homelessness.”

The residents are decorating the shoes to tie in with major events such as The Queen’s Jubilee and have plans in the future to exhibit the shoes for the public to see and enjoy.

James Lee House has been part of Warrington for more than five decades and provides 54 beds for men and women over the age of 18 experiencing homelessness in and around Warrington.

Run by The Salvation Army, the Lifehouse celebrated its 50th anniversary in July 2018.

The Salvation Army hostels are known as Lifehouses as they provide specialist support and guidance to help residents tackle the complex reasons that led them to homelessness and help them end this cycle.


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