Salvation Army church opens its doors throughout the year to those who are in need or vulnerable. Church is calling on the public to donate warm clothes, tents and sleeping bags this winter.
“Without The Salvation Army - many of us here would be dead."
Those are the words of one man who attends the Bridges drop in – a thrice-weekly service for people with drug or alcohol problems or who are homeless.
The drop-in, started by Captain Kathryn McLean at The Salvation Army’s church in Bicester now runs on Tuesday, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays people get a sandwich while on Fridays they can get a hot meal.
The centre also provides clothes, tents and sleeping bags - many of which are donated by those in the community. As winter draws in these donations are more essential than ever.
People can also collect food vouchers for the town’s food bank, have a wash, brush their teeth, and get advice on applying for housing, benefits, as well as help in beating their addictions. Captain Kathryn is herself a qualified drug and alcohol worker – although the church also employs someone to help those who attend. Captain Kathryn said: “We started it originally as a drop-in because we saw there was a need. No one wanted to admit that there were people who were homeless in the area. But we saw people were in great need.
"I am really passionate about practical Christianity. The church has a responsibility to be a voice for those who are ignored or can’t speak out for themselves. Fighting for them. Advocating for them – which is part of what we do.”
The church also gives out sandwiches – donated by the local Pret a Manger – to those who are homeless throughout the week.
*Gregory is one of those who has benefited from the drop-in. Two years ago he lost his job as an IT engineer and ended up sleeping in his car. He had no money and no food. He couldn’t apply for jobs without an address.
But he came across The Salvation Army when they offered him a sandwich on one of their walk-arounds and he started going to Bridges.
He said: “Unfortunately I didn’t have anywhere to live. It’s hard to go to job interviews when you can’t wash properly, I didn’t have many clothes and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. The Salvation Army are so helpful. They don’t judge, they just help. There are clothes, there is food. They gave me advice and companionship. Now I have a job again in IT. I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for them – I would probably still be in the same situation. Many people are just one or two pay packets away from disaster.”
To find out more information or to donate to the drop in contact Captain Kathryn Mclean on 01869 369160.
*Name has been changed.