Salvation Army changed my life and gave me dream job

published on 5 Oct 2022

When Gordon Maclean turned to The Salvation Army for support, it was the moment his life began to change for the better. 

After declaring himself homeless, Gordon was referred to the church and charity for emergency housing support and was given a place to stay at William Hunter House in Glasgow. 

Expecting just a roof over his head, he soon realised The Salvation Army provided more than shelter. With the support of specialist staff, Gordon began putting his life back together. He moved into a home of his own and gradually gained the confidence to start working again.

Now I’m in the role of helping people I try to remember the positive impact I can have on someone’s life, even through the smallest things.
Gordon Maclean

Gordon began helping vulnerable and struggling young people at a charity before applying for a job with The Salvation Army as part of a new initiative called Housing First. The scheme gives homeless people a permanent home and the support needed to sustain their tenancy. Gordon’s application was successful and in January 2020 he became an assistant support worker. Since then, The Salvation Army has given him the career opportunities he has “dreamed of”. 

Speaking ahead of one of Scotland’s biggest recruitment events on Friday (October 7), Gordon says he would recommend the charity to others because of the potential for personal development and career progression. 

The Salvation Army will have a stall at the Glasgow Jobs Fair in Hampden Park and Gordon is hoping it will attract more people to consider a career in helping people escape homelessness. 

He added: “I previously lived in one of The Salvation Army’s shelters, or lifehouses as they are called, about nine years ago. The staff at The Salvation Army gave me hope. They listened to me and helped me change my life for the better. 

“Now I’m in the role of helping people I try to remember the positive impact I can have on someone’s life, even through the smallest things. 

“Some of the stuff we do with service users includes opening their mail with them and dealing with any important letters. We encourage them to be as independent as possible and to advocate for themselves on any issues they might have. 

“Some of the people we support have never lived on their own before so the things most people take for granted, such as cooking a simple meal, can be overwhelming. 

“Initially we will go to any meetings and appointments with them but the entire aim of Housing First is to prepare people to be independent so they can do that by themselves. The support is here for as long as they need it though. 

“We look to get people involved in recovery communities if that’s what they need. Get them support from mental health charities. Encourage them to be part of their communities. 

“Sometimes this role can be hard because we’re working with people who have multi-complex needs. They can be doing ok for a wee bit then have a slip and a dip and go into crisis. That can happen with three or four people at the one time so when we have a success – that may be someone going to a recovery café, or stabilising on their methadone, or paying a bill – we celebrate it. 

“We celebrate even the smallest success because I know from experience how that can have a positive effect on your confidence. 

“Relationships are the key to it all. Building that relationship. Sometimes it takes a while because of trust issues. Once you have that trust, it works. I have a relationship with every one of my clients – and they know they can trust me.  

“At the moment I have seven clients. The Housing First principles are aimed at seven. Usually on a Thursday or Friday, the other specialist support workers will sit down together and plan the week ahead. Usually people will have specific dates and times that suit them. For instance, one of my guys likes an early so I’ll communicate with him via text and run by the support times with him. 

“You see how good a team we have here at Housing First. It’s a diverse group of people with all kinds of skills. People who have managed in homelessness services for 20 years to others who are less experienced but full of enthusiasm for the job. 

“For me it’s an exciting role. Housing First is a new concept but I enjoy it. We make a difference. I know we do; it is evident.” 

For more information on working with The Salvation Army or to attend the Glasgow Jobs Fair, visit 

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