Salvation Army celebrates 45-year emergency service support
published on 19 Apr 2023
Salvation Army volunteers in Suffolk are celebrating 45 years of supporting emergency services in the county this month with a dedicated emergency vehicle.
Across the country, the church and charity provides refreshments and emotional support to fire and rescue staff and local communities. In Suffolk, this began in 1978 when coordinator Mike Baker set up a group of volunteers.
Mike explained: “In January 1978, there was a lot of flooding on the East Coast and The Salvation Army got a lot of calls asking for support and help for those affected so a team from our Stowmarket church went out. We thought it was a great experience and a great way to serve people so decided to investigate whether it was something we could do on a regular basis
“We started in April that year and just took it one day at a time to start with. For the first 25 years, we were just working out of the back of people’s cars but in 2003, we got our own vehicle and we have the support of a consistent volunteer team which is vital. The Fire Service often tell us they can’t wait for us to get there.”
Over the years, the team of volunteers in Suffolk have responded to events around the county and elsewhere. Mike has a number of fond memories including serving refreshments at The London Paralympics in 2012 and helping in the Toll Bar floods in South Yorkshire 2007.
The relationship between Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service and The Salvation Army in the county continues to grow and plans for the redevelopment of Stowmarket Fire Station included a dedicated bay for the church and charity’s vehicle.
Mike said: “It shows the fire service commitment to us in that location. It is a privilege to be able to bring them sustenance, cheer and encouragement as well as to spread Christian love.”
Jon Lacey, Chief Fire Officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service is incredibly grateful for the invaluable support we have received from the Salvation Army since our partnership began 45 years ago, which includes the provision of refreshments and emotional assistance at large-scale and major incidents.
“Our new fire station in Stowmarket offers a dedicated bay for the Salvation Army’s vehicle, cementing our commitment to this continued collaboration and recognising the important role of the voluntary sector in helping both Suffolk’s emergency services and communities.”