In 1975 the first SAFE summer school was held at a hotel in South Wales. It became quickly popular and continues to be oversubscribed. Over the years the school has evolved to become a School of Arts offering workshops in music, drama, dance, craft and sport. Each year ends with a final festival of worship for friends and family, showcasing what the school has achieved together throughout the week. The school is currently held at the National Star College in Cheltenham.
Throughout the year social events are arranged regionally for SAFE members and everyone receives a monthly newsletter full information and advice for people living with special needs. There is even a Facebook group where members can keep in touch.
Mandy, a SAFE member from Bromley said: “When my mum died, I shared the news on the Facebook group. There were so many comments and encouragements saying ‘we’re here for you.’ And it made such a difference at a difficult time.”
Most members are connected to their local Salvation Army church or centre. Everyone is welcome and included regardless of ability or circumstance. Whilst every Salvation Army church and centre is unique many offer access to volunteering and training opportunities as well as inclusive worship and activities for people with special needs.
Sarah* has Down’s syndrome and her family became part of The Salvation Army church family thanks to SAFE. “The Salvation Army is such a caring place,” says her mum Ann*. “It’s reassuring to know that if Sarah is finding life difficult there are other people around who are there to help and support her.”
*Names have been changed
To find out more about SAFE membership and the SAFE School of Arts please contact Major Trevor Gibson.
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