Founded more than 150 years ago by social entrepreneurs, William and Catherine Booth, The Salvation Army has been a pioneering force in social care – supporting vulnerable people in escaping their situation and giving them hope.
Paul O’Grady: ‘The Sally Army and Me’ saw a film crew granted unprecedented access to the innovative work undertaken by the Church and charity every day at its centres and churches up and down the country. As a result, viewers will get a never before seen glimpse of The Sally Army, through the eyes of Paul O’Grady. Making the series sees Paul go some way to fulfilling one of his childhood dreams. Paul said: “My childhood ambition was to beat the drum in The Salvation Army and work in a dry cleaners...and I've done neither of them.”
As a peripatetic care worker in London The Salvation Army officers and project workers provided practical assistance to Paul and his clients.
Paul said: “The Sally Army has always managed to build a bridge to me across my life – from saints to sinners! They saved kids near my street when I was a boy with food kitchens, helped me when I was a care worker and supported people I know over the years.”
In the six-part series Paul O’Grady, along with his Salvation Army mentor, Captain Jo Moir, embark on a journey which both say will have a lasting impact on their lives.
Captain Jo said: “As Paul’s mentor, I was really looking forward to meeting him, and on the first day of filming he came to have a cup of tea in the kitchen. We completely forgot the cameras were there and chattered away about the many things which connected us. Before my calling to officership, I worked as a midwife. We have one thing in common – we are good talkers! It was very easy for us to relax in each other’s company.”
In each episode Paul will take up a regular place working alongside skilled staff, volunteers and officers at The Salvation Army’s centres who transform the lives of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
If Paul can roll up his sleeves, Captain Jo promises to help him fulfil his childhood dream of performing as a guest in a Salvation Army band, perhaps even playing in the band as it marches down London’s Oxford Street.
Captain Jo Moir said: “We are 150 years old now and, on the whole, the general public has no idea about the scope of the work we do and why we do it. Some of the film crew thought that we just help ‘homeless people’ but that’s just one of the areas of our work.
“Our founder, William Booth, wrote and published a book, ‘In Darkest England’ in 1890, and I believe by making this series we are again carrying that beacon, shining light where there is darkness. If there is a mission for me it’s showing where the heart of The Salvation Army is and why we do what we do and I believe Paul achieves this in The Sally Army and Me. As a movement we are as relevant now as we were 150 years ago and continue to fight for social justice, offering Christ’s love without condition.”
Since its early days, social action has been central to The Salvation Army’s Christian faith. In 1885 Salvationists successfully campaigned for the age of consent to be raised from 13 to 16 and in 1890 the church and charity opened the UK’s first labour exchange.
In the UK and Republic of Ireland The Salvation Army’s work includes more than 800 community churches and social centres offering compassionate support, a listening ear and practical help. If you would like to support our work, please text ‘SALLY’ to 70660 to donate £5.
Did you miss the previous episodes? Click here to watch via BBC iPlayer (Programme available for 30 days).
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