Plans for new Strawberry Field training centre

published on 14 Mar 2014

The Salvation Army have announced plans for a new training centre and cafe at Strawberry Field, the former children’s home run by The Salvation Army since 1936 and which closed in 2005, and the focus of the now legendary Beatles song, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.

Announcing the move as public consultations begin for planning permission, the Church and Charity seeks to develop a training centre for work skills at the site, including opportunities for young people with learning disabilities to develop valuable skills which can enable them to gain entry to the workforce.

The Salvation Army’s Divisional Commander in North-Western Division, which includes Liverpool, Major Drew McCombe, said, “It is a great privilege to announce the plans for Strawberry Field, which is such an iconic part of both The Salvation Army’s, and Liverpool’s, history.”

“When the centre opened in 1936, our then Territorial Commander, Commissioner Catherine Bramwell-Booth, said ‘We must save the children because they cannot save themselves! They cannot open the gates to fairer and better things.’ In a sentence, that is what the new programme will do at Strawberry Field for young people – the building whose gates are so famous will now open the gates of opportunity.”

Alongside the training programme, which is expected to mirror programmes which already feature in The Salvation Army, such as its Hadleigh Farm Training Centre, Strawberry Field will also for the first time play host to visitors – with areas of the grounds and a café open to the public. Alongside the café will be a heritage exhibit which will explore the history of both The Salvation Army’s provision of child services and Strawberry Field.

“We’re intensely aware that Strawberry Field is an iconic part of Liverpool’s history, as well as an important part of the local community in Woolton,” said Major McCombe. “We’re currently engaging with the local authority, carrying out public consultation and speaking to major stakeholders about this exciting project. If anybody in the area has anything they wish to discuss with us, our door is always open. We are a community organisation and we want our new programme to serve the community.”

He continued, “We hope the people of Woolton and Liverpool will support us in this new initiative and we are prepared to work together with local groups and organisations to ensure that once again, Strawberry Field can be more than a pair of closed gates and a living, breathing, expression of our support for the most vulnerable young people in Liverpool once more.”