A new space to support the homeless get back into work and moving on positively has opened at St Catherine of Siena church in Birmingham.

Previously located in Digbeth, as Tabor House, Tabor Living offers shelter and safety to people experiencing homelessness, supporting residents to move away from the streets –working with each individual to build positive futures.

Tabor Living celebrated its move to a new location, at St Catherine of Siena church, with an official launch attended by West Midlands Combined Authority Mayor Andy Street and Archbishop Bernard Longley as well as partners, supporters and volunteers.

After 17 months and £500,000 investment, Tabor Living’s new-look space has nine emergency beds, 11 ‘next steps’ rooms, and additional spaces for community activity, more than doubling the rooms it can offer.

Andy Street, Sharon Fear, Archbishop Bernard Longley open the door to Tabor Living's new home

Archbishop Bernard Longley said of the new facility: “It's a representation of the concern of many agencies and individuals.

“I want to personally thank all those who have contributed in great partnership here. We are on the threshold of Tabor House in its new manifestation here. This is going to be a place of welcome for so many people.”

Mayor Andy Street said: “I'm full of admiration for what has been done here, both by the church itself and of course by the Tabor group- and it’s so important because we do still see people who are in need of urgent accommodation, which Tabor House provides.

“But what’s really interesting here is the 'move on' element at Tabor Living and that’s actually about helping people regain their independence and move through.”

Jermaine Carter

When the Tabor House project first began in 2015, estimates suggested there were up to 200 people sleeping rough in the city, possibly more.

The new facility has increased the centre’s capacity to support the homeless back into work and a new life, such as previous resident Jermaine Carter, a gardener who now lives in his own home and is full time dad to his two young children. When he first came to Tabor Living, at its previous location in Digbeth, he was living in his van after a breakup.  

He said: “It's not a nice feeling to sit in my van with the fan on all night and thinking ‘where do I go, what do I do?’.” Jermaine was working, but he had nowhere to stay.

When he found out about Tabor House he says he was ‘over the moon’: “I didn’t expect it to be so clean.” He was told that there was no need to pay for food, just to come there, eat and sleep there and to be able to go to work.  

Jermaine adds: “I felt like I was in my own space. The warmth that [the team] gave to me and the opportunities that they put out for me- they tried to bring everything out- what do you want to do, help with housing.

“I’ve got kids as well and they even helped me with that. It was an amazing journey; I don’t think I'd be where I am now without them.”

Sharon Fear, Jermaine Carter, Caroline Gorman

Project Manager Sharon Fear said that the team originally started Tabor House in Digbeth and found that what they were doing was really working. She said: “We were really heling people who tend to get overlooked because they're functioning in some ways, but still need support and help.

“We work with people who are legally able to work in the UK… We open the door to almost everybody- the only thing we say is you have to be willing to invest in yourself, we will link people to get onto the right path.”

She added that: “One of the reasons we've looked at expanding and becoming bigger is because we've noticed that there are less options for people who are working but who still need that support for the next move on - that’s where we sit.”

Tabor Living

Since opening, Tabor Living has helped over 100 rough sleepers through interventions, signposting, and support. Working closely with guests, the Tabor Living team provides a person-centred, strength-based approach to support: helping people to move forward positively with their lives and away from the streets into employment, their own tenancies, and independence.

The project has a 75% success rate and hopes to increase this with the new resources available at St Catherine of Siena Church. In addition to St Catherine of Siena, the organisation’s existing three-bedroom Tabor Cottage in Digbeth, has become a long-term tenancy location.

Tabor Living

Volunteers needed at Tabor Living

Tabor Living Launch

With thanks to Dan Knott - Semper Fi Photography for the images.