The Beatles introduced the world to Strawberry Field 50 years ago in their celebrated song, “Strawberry Fields Forever”. Now, The Salvation Army plans to open the iconic venue to the public as a hub for educational, cultural, heritage, and spiritual exploration. The charity announced its vision on the same day that the iconic song celebrated its 50th anniversary.
From 1936 to 2005, Strawberry Field provided a home to Liverpool’s most vulnerable children. After the planned redevelopment, Strawberry Field will provide vocational training to young people with disabilities and help them find work placements. Training areas include catering, retail, visitor experience, and horticulture. Life skills and confidence building sessions are also planned.
As is fitting, the hub will include an authentic exhibition of the place and the role it played in John Lennon’s early life.
Major Drew McCombe, Divisional Leader for The Salvation Army, North West said that The Salvation Army aims to do justice to the many people the children’s home supported, as well as those who feel a connection with the Lennon/McCartney song.
“It’s no secret that Strawberry Field was special to John Lennon – it mattered to him – and it feels right to launch our fundraising campaign and a new website on the 50th anniversary of the UK release of Strawberry Fields Forever. We’re going to inspire people to become involved in the project in any way they can, to create a pivotal place in the lives of young people and a must-see destination for Lennon and Beatles fans the world over,” said Major McCombe.
“And this is just the beginning. There is much more to share about the site beyond its links to John Lennon. Over the next few months, we will be letting fans across the globe know just how special this site was to John, as well as showing them how they can be a part of the site’s legacy and its future. There are some fantastic plans just around the corner, so watch this space.”
The space you can watch is the website, Strawberry Field Liverpool. It’s designed to convey the vision, essence, and heart of the project to the world at large, and to provide essential information to help donors and volunteers get involved.
The redevelopment project has received support from two important sources. The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said, “I’m expressing my wholehearted support of The Salvation Army’s plans to redevelop their children’s home at Strawberry Field. Their plans for a unique project, to provide vocational training for young people with mild to moderate learning disabilities, are to be commended.”
The Chair of The Beatles Legacy Group, Peter Hooton, said, “I can think of no better way Strawberry Field could be re-developed in such an innovative way, which gives hope and job opportunities to vulnerable young people, while making a valuable and worthwhile contribution to The Beatles Legacy in Liverpool.”
You can offer your support through donations, volunteering, and by buying gifts and memorabilia from the online shop. The website has more information.
All support efforts will help The Salvation Army reach the vast number of people with learning disabilities who are 18 years or older. It’s hoped that the hub will help the 84% of this demographic currently not receiving support services get the help they need. It’s also hoped that it will help the 93% of this demographic who are currently unemployed find meaningful jobs.
By building on the legacy of Strawberry Field, The Salvation Army aims to show the world why the site mattered to John Lennon, why the vision for its future matters, and why it should matter to the world.