Salvation Army salutes its 12,000 frontline volunteers who support communities across the country
published on 1 Jun 2018
At any given time, volunteers with The Salvation Army across the UK could be transporting a victim of modern slavery to a place of safety, supporting a person out of homelessness, offering care to someone with dementia or supporting the emergency services at the scene of incidents.
This Volunteers’ Week, The Salvation Army is saluting its more than 12,000 volunteers across the UK who are involved in every part of the charity’s frontline services – from anti-trafficking and modern slavery, to homelessness and addiction support, care for older people and community services.
The past year has seen emergency response volunteers in the UK help police, fire crews and ambulance services at the scenes of the Grenfell Tower fire, the attack at Westminster and the Manchester bombing as well as many other incidents in cities, towns and communities.
The Salvation Army’s Strategic Lead for Volunteering, Claire Bonham, says that many volunteers are often on the frontline of the UK’s toughest social challenges and tragedies - supporting people in highly vulnerable situations.
“Put simply, we could not help as many people as we do every day without the dedication of our network of volunteers.
“We have people up and down the country who are giving up their time to change people’s lives, and we want them to know this week and every week how much they are appreciated and the life changing difference they make for the people they help.”
Twenty-five-year-old Emilly Silva, who volunteers with The Salvation Army as a driver for potential victims of modern slavery, says she is motivated by knowing how her actions can help people.
“My role as a volunteer driver means that I can be called upon to chaperone potential victims of modern slavery by escorting them to a place of safety, usually by car but sometimes by train.
“I will receive a call or text from the National Transport Coordinator telling me that someone has been identified in my area and the pick-up will usually be only a short while afterwards. It can mean getting out of bed in the middle of the night, but if a person needs collecting from one place and taking to another for their own safety, that means their need at that point is far greater than mine, and I’m more than happy to exchange a couple of hours extra sleep that night.
“Quite often, when we get in the car and we are on the motorway, people will fall asleep. I can tell just how exhausted they are. It breaks my heart sometimes – often the person is about the same age as me.
“The days or nights I get called out, I know I have made a difference in someone’s life. It’s obvious really – I have petrol in my car and I can play this small role in helping someone, so why wouldn’t I do it?”
The Salvation Army’s Territorial Commander, Commissioner Lyndon Buckingham, has marked Volunteers’ Week 2018 by writing to volunteers across the territory to thank them for their service.
“The selflessness and commitment of our volunteers to serving their local communities is truly astounding,” he says. “They give their time, expertise and compassion, and go above and beyond to help those who need it most. They see each person who suffers hardship or injustice not as a problem to be dealt with, but as an individual worthy of their time.”
The Salvation Army is always looking for more volunteers; a list of available positions is posted online at www.salvationarmy.org.uk/volunteer-for-us. Or you can find out about local opportunities from your nearest Salvation Army centre.