The Salvation Army shows families face same social issues 100 years on

  • YouGov survey reveals concerns over affordability of basic essentials
  • 10 per cent of full-time working people worried about providing three nutritious meals a day for their families

On the 100th anniversary of the death of William Booth, social reformer and founder of The Salvation Army, the church and charity commissioned a YouGov survey looking at whether social issues for families have changed from those identified by The Salvation Army a century ago.

The survey results reveal that 100 years on, the same concerns remain in 21st century Britain.

A century ago, The Salvation Army through their work found the main issues facing people were: the lack of ability to buy food and clothing; the fear of losing their homes; the lack of jobs and employment opportunities; and the health and social dangers of a heavy drinking culture.

The YouGov survey revealed that in terms of raising their family the way they would like to, the main concerns for one in five (20 per cent) UK parents with children aged 16 or under are affording basic needs such as food and clothing, and also getting into debt. For those who are working, one in ten (10 per cent) of people working full-time are worried about providing three nutritious meals a day for them and their family.

Close to one-third (31 per cent) of those surveyed who are working are worried about being able to afford to replace essential households goods such as a new bed, cooker or white goods. Just over one quarter (26 per cent) of people who are working full-time worry about being able to pay their mortgage or rent.

An international church and charity, The Salvation Army has a long history of working with people who are vulnerable and marginalised and offers practical help, unconditional assistance and support to transform their lives.

Lieut-Colonel Marion Drew of The Salvation Army UK and Ireland, says: “One hundred years on, we know anyone can find themselves facing these very real social concerns; what matters is there’s a way out for people that offers hope and the belief that they can make a better life for themselves and their family.

“People are at the heart of everything we do; The Salvation Army is devoted as an organisation to working alongside people, offering practical support to those who are vulnerable or in need. We don’t judge or condemn; we offer a hand-up and seek to carry on Booth’s legacy to fight for the marginalised and those without hope.”

The YouGov survey revealed close to one third (30 per cent) of people surveyed are worried about the drinking culture of young people in the UK. One in seven (14 per cent) of parents with children aged 16 or under said that their biggest concern for their children is them becoming involved in harmful or illegal drugs.

Seven per cent of people in the UK are currently worried about alcohol or drug addiction within their family.

Just over one third (35 per cent) of people with children under 16 are worried about the lack of working opportunities for their children.

Case study from In Darkest England and The Way Out, William Booth 1890.

Youth, aged 16. Sad case; Londoner. Has slept here every night for a month. Before that slept in Covent Garden Market or on doorsteps. Been sleeping out six months, since he left Feltham Industrial School. Was sent there for playing truant. Has had one bit of bread to-day; yesterday had only some gooseberries and cherries, i.e., bad ones that had been thrown away. Mother is alive. She "chucked him out" when he returned home on leaving Feltham because he couldn't find her money for drink.

21st century case study

Luke, 16, South of England “I recently went to a local Salvation Army church homeless and hungry. I was kicked out of my family home after committing a string of petty crimes and was regularly hungry. My relationship with my mother had been getting progressively worse as she was becoming increasingly alcohol dependent and I know my behaviour was becoming more problematic.

The team at the church welcomed me in and give me Food Parcels. This practical help and support from The Salvation Army has provided me with a safe space to come to and helped to alleviate the constant worry about where my next meal is going to come from.”

Lt-Col Marion adds:  “The Salvation Army still recognises that in 2012 anyone can find themselves facing grief and despair. Family breakdown, unemployment, poverty, homelessness and drug and alcohol dependency are just some of the reasons why people can lose everything they value, including their dignity.”

In the UK and Republic of Ireland there are more than 800 Salvation Army social service centres and churches (corps).  The Salvation Army runs 120 drop-in centres offering support and help for people in need and serve 3,000,000 meals every year at community and residential centres.

If you know someone who may need help – go to our website or call in to your local church – The Salvation Army is here to serve in every community.

See more case studies from 'In Darkest England':  Alcohol, Unemployment, Homelessness and Sexual Exploitation.

Notes to editors:

Statistical data, past and present case studies, interviews, images and archive footage are available: please contact The Salvation Army media office:

Sophie Docker Media Officer, The Salvation Army tel: 020 7367 4517 / 07889 756 516
Chris Beaton Media Officer, The Salvation Army tel: 07885 664 721

- All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2099 adults, of which 444 had a child aged 16 or under. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th - 20th August 2012 .  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

- The Salvation Army’s founder William Booth died 20th August 1912,.  The results reveal the concerns in 21st century Britain were identified back in 1890 in Booth’s book In Darkest England and The Way Out and the “submerged tenth” of Victorian society. For details of the history of the Salvation Army visit:

- The Salvation Army is a worldwide Christian church and registered charity, working in 124 countries, offers unconditional friendship, support and very practical help to people of all ages, backgrounds and needs. In the UK and Republic of Ireland there are more than 800 Salvation Army social service centres and corps (community churches).  The Salvation Army Registered Charity Nos 214779, 215174, in Scotland SC009359, SC037691, and in Ireland CHY6399. For more information visit the website