Salvation Army thank public during cost-of-living crisis

published on 16 Dec 2022

The Salvation Army has mobilised together across Birmingham and the Black Country to donate 4500 new toys and 550 Christmas food hampers to support families in need over the festive season.

This wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of the general public, churches, local groups, charities and businesses.

Every year, Salvation Army Officers meet or hear of distressed parents facing the prospect of their children having nothing to open on Christmas Day. Church leaders across Birmingham and the Black Country are concerned that the cost-of-living crisis will mean even more families will struggle to pay for the very basics over Christmas.   

Sorting toys by age group in Birmingham Citadel, Snowhill.

Salvation Army church leader, Major Adrian Allman said:

“Every year we ask people to donate new toys and cash to our Present Appeal and for food hampers so we can help families whose children would otherwise not receive a gift, or where families may not be able to afford food. This year, we have seen the demand soar by 22 per cent for Christmas food parcels and 40 per cent for toy referrals. This just shows how people are continuing to struggle and how more people may be affected by soaring costs.

“In Birmingham we are able to collect cash donations from members of the public while we play Christmas carols in the streets and our bands also played in Willenhall and Wednesbury. People have continued to give so generously, amid a cost-of-living crisis. Businesses and supermarkets have also been particularly generous this year donating gifts for children in the city and across the Black Country. Volunteers also come back year after year to help us, when our church in the city transforms into a packing centre for five days in December”.

This year, the church packed 1500 parcels of toys and 550 food hampers. The food hampers have been distributed to nearly 400 families and individuals (some large families need more than one hamper).

The gifts and hampers will be given out through social services agencies, family support teams, the police, GP surgeries, health visitors, midwives, youth centres, schools, hostels and safe houses.  

Janet Vincent is a member of The Salvation Army and has been helping with the Christmas packing operation for the last seven years.

Leader of The Salvation Army churches in Willenhall and Darlaston, Lee Highton-Nicolls said:  

“The public donate to us all through the year, not just at Christmas, for example, we collect cash regularly from a local supermarket in Willenhall. In addition, local businesses and a GP surgery have donated several van loads of gifts in November and December.

“A large furniture manufacturer kindly allowed us to ask for donations at their Wednesbury site, where we sang and played for customers. It is so great to see that people and businesses want to give so generously at a particularly difficult time, when high inflation means many people are struggling with increased costs”.

Local supermarkets have also donated surplus food for the church at Oldbury, along with financial donations from local businesses.

The church turned into a packing centre for five days in December (food hamper boxes)

The Salvation Army homelessness services at Snowhill is preparing for its Christmas celebrations.

William Booth Centre Lifehouse (residential accommodation) opposite St. Chad’s Cathedral, has beds for 74 men and women who have been homeless and provide support so that residents can move into longer-term accommodation. The Salvation Army provides a contracted service to Birmingham City Council to accommodate people who have slept on the streets.

As part of their one-to-one care, residents can receive support to tackle addiction and mental health issues and prepare for independent living.  The Lifehouse has accommodated around 180 people over this last year and residents will be able to celebrate Christmas at the Lifehouse, enjoying a festive meal on Christmas Day.

Many Salvation Army churches across the West Midlands are also offering warm spaces so people have somewhere to go to keep warm this winter. Please check the warm welcome website for more information

A Christmas celebration at a Salvation Army centre

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