Salvation Army “supporting people who can’t afford to live”

published on 24 Oct 2023

The Salvation Army responds to a new report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, ‘Destitution in the UK 2023’. 

The Salvation Army’s Captain Jonathan Raggett leads the church and charity’s work in Stratford and East Ham, one of the most deprived areas named in the JRF report. He said: “We are supporting people who, quite simply, can’t afford to live. Basics are now out of reach for too many families and individuals, including people who work. 

"There is one family of five who we are supporting who are currently living in a one-bedroom flat. The father is working long hours to cover the rent and bills while the mother is at home caring for the youngest child. Without using our Community Store for food, hygiene and cleaning products and our Community Wardrobe for clothes and school uniforms this family would not have enough funds to pay their utility bills and council tax.”

Captain Naomi Kelly, leader of The Salvation Army in Middlesbrough, whose team runs a social supermarket offering discounted food items, food vouchers, and a debt advice service, said: “Communities are really struggling and the situation is getting worse. We’re now seeing people who never thought they would need to ask for help. Something we have noticed recently is parents bringing their children with them to pick up food vouchers, whereas previously they may have tried to hide how they were struggling, now I think the situation is so desperate they are being more open about it. 

“Our debt advice service is seeing people who are in rent arrears or have to turn to payday loans to meet day-to-day living costs. It is heartbreaking to see what people are facing and the lack of hope we come across. We want them to know there is help for them here at Middlesbrough Salvation Army.” 

The Salvation Army has 650 churches and centres in the UK and often steps in to help the people in our communities who have run out of options and have nowhere else to go. The JRF report confirms what our officers see every day. We believe Government could help reverse these levels of destitution by:

1.    Forming a new cross-Government task force to tackle, with empathy and compassion, the reasons people are not earning and are trapped in poverty.

2.    Reducing the five-six week wait for a first Universal Credit payment to two weeks at a minimum.

3.    Pausing the clawback of welfare debt until the cost of living crisis has subsided and at least including Universal Credit debt in the ‘Breathing Space’ debt support scheme.

4.    Committing to an Essential Guarantee for minimum benefit levels.

To read the full report, visit:

A male wearing a Salvation Army fleece with Granby Centre embroidered on it, talks with woman wearing purple coat

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