The Salvation Army delivers ‘comfort and joy’ this Christmas
published on 6 Dec 2023
New research from The Salvation Army finds that almost two thirds of the UK (64%) have seen signs of people experiencing deprivation in their community increase this year compared to last, and a third (34%) say their feelings of hope this Christmas are at an all-time low.
Painting a stark picture of a modern United Kingdom, the data also reveals that over half of people are struggling to feel comfort (55%) and joy (57%) this Christmas. ‘Comfort’ in the survey is defined as ‘physically comfortable and safe’, and ‘joy’ as meaning ‘happy and hopeful’.
The findings of the research come as little surprise to The Salvation Army, whose officers are preparing for increased demand for their help this Christmas. The survey of more than 5,000 people across the UK finds that worries about the cost of living (59%), the state of the world (32%), and paying for presents (28%), were all factors leading to many people struggling to find Christmas joy.
Over 2 in 5 (42%) people know someone who has fallen on hard times financially in the last year, who could do with some help during the festive season. The Salvation Army is working hard to help those in need and is calling for support to help bring comfort and joy to more people experiencing deprivation this Christmas and throughout the year.
Salvation Army officer Major Jo Moir, said:
This research shows the growing level of need but at The Salvation Army we feel hopeful because we can help. How we help depends on what the local community need but our officers are wrapping presents, preparing meals, packing food parcels, providing warm spaces and a listening ear.
“For The Salvation Army, part of celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas means doing what we can to bring comfort and joy to people who are struggling to feel the spirit of Christmas. That could be emergency practical help like providing a warm coat and a hot meal for someone shivering in the cold. We also bring joy or emotional support by holding Christmas dinners for people who are lonely and isolated or just offering a welcoming space so people can come in for a chat and a cup of tea.
“Our bands are playing carols on the streets sharing the good news of Christmas which lets people know we are doing what we can to help, and we know people feel that comforting. The survey found that for one in six people, singing carols and going to church would bring them more joy this Christmas.”
The survey also found that:
- Almost 2 in 5 (39%) Brits agree that their feeling of hope is the lowest it’s been in 10 years.
- 63% believe we need to rediscover our Christmas spirit and do more to support those experiencing deprivation at this time of year.
- More than 3 in 5 (63%) believe the country and their local community need an urgent injection of comfort and joy this Christmas.
- Half of Britons (50%) have spent or will spend less on Christmas presents this year.
This year The Salvation Army will be:
- Distributing around 76,000* presents to children whose parents cannot afford to buy gifts.
- Providing beds for 3,000 people every night in 81 residential hostels, called Lifehouses, across the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
- Providing Christmas lunches and companionship to older people living alone.
- Giving Christmas food parcels to families who are struggling to afford a proper Christmas lunch.
- Offering people a safe, warm alternative to a night on the streets through our emergency provision.
- Providing practical support of hot food, clothing and access to drop-in day centres with access to specialist support.
But Christmas time brings a glimmer of hope as almost half (47%) agree they find it easier to find joy at Christmas compared to the rest of the year, and over 3 in 5 (61%) feel they have power to make the future for themselves and the people they care about more hopeful.
Scott Clark Bartlett, who was helped out of homelessness by The Salvation Army said:
“Having experienced several periods of homelessness, I was lucky to be supported by The Salvation Army in getting a place to stay. I have been able to get my life back on track and am looking for work. I spent last Christmas in a house and it was the most enjoyable Christmas Day I’ve ever had, being around people I call my friends. The charity has given me an immense sense of hope and I am hopeful that next Christmas I will be in my own place cooking for my family.”
Each Salvation Army corps is different and responds to the specific needs of their communities with a range of services, such as: serving hot meals and supplying emergency shelter for people forced to sleep rough, providing Christmas food parcels and presents for families struggling to make ends meet, hosting Christmas meals for isolated and vulnerable people, and stocking food and children’s clothes banks. Help The Salvation Army bring comfort and joy to vulnerable people this Christmas and throughout the year, by donating at www.salvationarmy.org.uk.
*76,000 gifts based on what was distributed last year