The Salvation Army is a lifeline for many vulnerable people in the UK. As a church and charity organisation it relies primarily on donations to keep its doors open and ensure it can always lend a helping a hand. One of its biggest fundraising events is the Big Collection, which it launched at the beginning of September 2019.
Staff members and volunteers have several projects on the go, with more to be implemented throughout the month. You can support the Big Collection by attending charity concerts and bake sales, and by giving generously to volunteers going door-to-door and standing on the high street to collect funds.
To safeguard against any misrepresentation, all collectors carry a permit and Salvation Army-branded envelopes and collection tins. If you’re of a digital mind, you can also donate to the cause online.
Every penny of the money raised will be used to fund all of the social and community services upon which vulnerable people rely. These services include support for people experiencing homelessness and social isolation through Lifehouses, care homes, and daycare centres. Specialised services include providing a place of safety for survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking, and reuniting families that have broken apart.
These services are more in-demand than ever as prevailing economic and social conditions wreak havoc on families and individuals who are at risk of poverty, substance abuse, homelessness, and violence.
Commenting on the situation, Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant said, “This has been a difficult few years for the UK, and many people are feeling unsafe, scared, and unsupported. Our mission puts us in the frontline alongside people have lost their home, who are desperately lonely and isolated, who struggle with addiction, who are escaping the horrors of modern slavery, and who can’t afford to provide food for their families.”
He added, “We want to do even more to help them, being a loving friend, relieving suffering, and offering practical help. Help us to give hope where it is needed most by donating to the Big Collection. Whatever you can give today will enable us to keep working with so many people who need help from our social welfare and community service programmes.”
Making a real difference to people’s lives
Three people who have benefited from The Salvation Army’s services have spoken about their life-altering experiences.
Mary spent 20 years sleeping rough on the streets, from a tender 19-year-old to a 40-year-old who, according to Mary, has just woken up. Mary was trapped by drug and alcohol addiction, which resulted, at least partly, from mental health challenges. She suffered from crippling anxiety and tried heroin to make the anxiety go away. In a sense, it worked because, as Mary said, “Heroin numbs out every single emotion. You don’t cry, you don’t laugh.”
That numbness kept her caught up in a cycle of addiction and homelessness, which only broke when a severe epileptic fit left her with two broken legs and the realisation that she had, at last, hit rock bottom. She was referred to The Salvation Army Lifehouse support service and, thanks to the love, care, and life skills training from those at William Booth Lifehouse, was able to put her life back together.
Mary now lives in second-stage supported accommodation where she puts her new healthy cooking, budgeting, and financial management skills to good work.
Commenting on Mary’s progress, Service Manager Edward Dixon said, “Working closely with her support worker we sought to provide the nurturing and caring environment to journey with Mary as she literally got back on her feet. Mary’s physical and personal transformation has been remarkable. We’re so proud of everything she has achieved.”
Adam has also struggled with mental health challenges which were partly caused by a road accident when he was 13 years old. He was hit by a truck and suffered an inverse skull fracture. It was severely debilitating, to the point where he has to learn how to walk again.
Adam turned to cannabis to help keep him on an even keel. Unfortunately, his life was far from even as he found himself in his own cycle of hell, going from emergency housing to sleeping on friends’ sofas, and flirting with rough sleeping before heading back into emergency housing.
According to Adam, who is just 37 years old, his rock bottom came when he had a breakdown, stopped taking care of himself, didn’t get out of bed, and withdrew from all his friends. Unsurprisingly, he ended up on the streets without the skills necessary to even put a roof over his head.
Housing First and The Salvation Army in Glasgow came to his rescue and now Adam not only has essential life skills, he also has stability and ongoing support from both organisations.
After being homeless for seven years, Adam now says, “… my support worker helps to keep me right, checks in with me to see where my head’s at, to see if it’s a day where I’m not going to be doing anything because I can’t face it. They’re very laid back and easy going. I think that’s the large part of why I think it’s such a good project.”
Vera is one of the older people who benefit from The Salvation Army’s 12 care homes throughout England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Vera, a dementia patient, lives in Youell Court Care Home. The home specialises in caring for dementia sufferers and is fully accredited by Dementia Care Matters. The intensely personal approach provides music, singing, and group activities, as well as spiritual reflection and worship.
The home goes above and beyond to provide a comfortable and caring environment, to the extent that there are no staff uniforms, schedules are relaxed and friendly conversation is the norm.
Susan, Vera’s daughter, said, “There’s lots of fun and laughter and there’s a huge amount of affection. Mum was a farmer’s wife who got on with the job and was dead practical. She had lots of friends and a lovely social life and to see her enjoying herself is just beautiful, it’s lovely.”
She adds, “The staff [members] are so natural, they just seem to love people. There is an ethos and a value that people in The Salvation Army have, which is full of warmth and love and care.”
The Salvation Army at a glance:
- 8,600 people experiencing homelessness receive help each year at our weekly drop-ins
- 5,690 people on average attend weekly luncheon clubs
- 3,354 victims of modern slavery and human trafficking were helped in 2018
- 3,081 people every night receive shelter and support from our 67 lifehouses for those who are experiencing homelessness
- 1,515 new enquiries were made last year to our Family Tracing Service, with an average 89% success rate
- 464 beds for older people needing care were provided by our 12 residential care homes