Salvation Army members, friends and volunteers will be out raising funds this September hoping for its most successful Big Collection to date.
The annual appeal raises money to support work in communities across the UK and Republic of Ireland, with every penny donated going directly to people that need it most. Last year a staggering £1.6 million in cash was donated by generous supporters and, with no admin costs, one hundred percent of this money helped ensure that outreach work could continue to benefit communities The Salvation Army is present in.
Salvation Army members will adopt a number of fundraising methods during this period, including entertaining shoppers on high streets and outside supermarkets with bands, and carrying out door to door visits during September. Donations will help Salvation Army services that support people who are homeless, victims of modern slavery, families in poverty, individuals struggling with unemployment, people battling addiction and vulnerable older people who are lonely.
All collectors will be carrying a permit, which can be shown on request, and will only ask for cash donations in Salvation Army donation envelopes or a sealed Salvation Army collection tin. Donations can also be made to The Big Collection by visiting www.salvationarmy.org.uk/BigCollection or by texting BCOL18 £3 (or any amount) to 70070.
The Salvation Army’s social work can take many forms. Here are just three examples of the ways the public’s generosity has helped in the last year:
“Life was really bad. I was taking drugs nearly every day of my life”: Michael’s Story Michael found himself unsure where his life was heading, he fell into deep depression and turned to drugs and alcohol. Following an overdose and sleeping on his dad’s sofa, friends noticed Michael going downhill and encouraged him to contact The Salvation Army’s Centenary House in Belfast. Having experienced homelessness previously, Michael had spent time living at Centenary House but was asked to leave due to bad behaviour.
He said: “I rang up every day to ask if I could come back to Centenary House for a second chance.” Michael now lives in one of 12 resettlement flats in the centre and has been clean of class A drugs for over a year. Taking full advantage of his second chance, Michael volunteers as a handyman at the centre, helping with all aspects of maintenance. He said: “If I wasn’t doing something I would be out misbehaving probably, but I like helping people, it makes me feel good”. Michael has also found healing in physical exercise and has benefited from the onsite gym and trained fitness instructor who works at the centre.
Michael has been able to work through his issues with his support worker and his outlook on the future has changed significantly. Michael is hopeful that he will be able to live independently in the near future. “My support worker is the best,” Michael said. “I feel like crying he’s helped me so much. I wish he just knew how much he means to me.”
“We could be where we needed to be”: Karl’s story The Salvation has 18 Emergency Response Vehicles around the UK territory. These vehicles are used for various causes but primarily offer support to the emergency services at major incidents. Three vehicles have been supporting the London Fire Brigade for over 35 years. Karl coordinates one of these vans based in Shoreditch, he said: “We aim to arrive at a scene as quickly and safely as possible and we provide a welfare response. We’ll turn up to give out refreshments but we’re also there to chat with whoever wants to chat.”
At major incidents The Salvation Army will often open up churches as rest centres, give pastoral and practical support, and take on a number of tasks as needed during very difficult times. In 2017 The Salvation Army responded to the Grenfell Tower disaster. Karl said: “That was a very difficult day; we did what we had to do and got into our routine of what we always do. It was a very privileged position to be, in such sad circumstances, that we as The Salvation Army could be where we needed to be on that morning.”
Karl continues, “I think the reason The Salvation Army responds is to try to bring some peace to these difficult situations, maybe a word of comfort to a firefighter. We have a long history as an organisation that we will come and stand by people in times of need.”
“Everyone needs a purpose in life”: Paige’s story Hadleigh Farm Estate in Essex has been owned by The Salvation Army since 1891 and was originally intended as a training and employment farm for men to escape the squalor of Victorian London. Today the site houses a rare breeds farm, tea rooms and a training centre for adults with additional support needs. Up to 90 trainees a day are helped to develop life skills, build confidence as well as learn skills for possible future employment. Skills include wood work, horticulture, IT, catering, retail and hospitality.
Paige, 22, visits Hadleigh twice a week and is part of the Fresh Opportunities Programme, preparing food for the training college and tea rooms. She also hopes to work with children and through the training centre has a placement at the local primary school, setting up for playtime and spending time with the children. This placement is helping to give her the skills to move forward in this area in the future.
Paige’s mum Tracy said: “When Paige finished college we found it hard to find anywhere for young adults with disabilities to go so we knew Hadleigh was going to be our first stop. Since starting at Hadleigh, Paige’s confidence has grown so much, she’s helping me cook at home and her chocolate brownie is absolutely amazing. “Hadleigh a fantastic work place and gives all the trainees a really good work ethic. Everyone needs a purpose in life and Paige is a fortunate young lady, she is now motivated and has that purpose in life.”