This September, Salvation Army members, friends, and volunteers will be collecting in their communities to raise money for the annual Big Collection. Every penny donated will support people who are vulnerable or marginalised across the UK.
Christine Thomas, territorial appeals officer for The Salvation Army, said: “The Salvation Army is determined to help transform the lives of even more people in our communities. We see the whole person not just their needs – helping people to live life in all its fullness, and treating people in need with compassion and respect.
“Your kindness will help people all over the UK and your generosity will become a meal for someone who is hungry, enable someone to support an older person living on their own, or provide a helping hand for a young family.”
Salvation Army members will be using a variety of fundraising methods, including making visits in their communities and entertaining high street shoppers with lively band music. Members of the public can also support the Big Collection by texting BCOL17 and the amount they want to donate to 70070.How the public’s generosity helps…
A journey from sleeping rough: Alan’s story
Alan lost his job as a lorry driver after being diagnosed with epilepsy in 2011. This also came at the time that he and his wife were divorcing. With nothing to keep him rooted in Leeds, he turned his back on his home town and took a train to Cardiff.
He said: “Obviously I had nowhere to live, but I wasn't bothered about that. At first it was alright, the drink was there for me.”
Through friends who were also rough sleeping he was introduced to The Salvation Army’s bus project in Cardiff, a mobile drop-in centre, which provides food and advice every night to people experiencing homelessness. The bus project helped him find accommodation at The Salvation Army’s residential centre for people who are homeless - Ty Gobaith Lifehouse. There he started the Bridge Programme – a scheme to help people recover from addiction.
Alan said: “It's all about progression and moving on. So you're learning to love yourself, you're coming off the drink in an environment where they're looking after you all the time.”
At first all went well and after completing the programme Alan moved into a flat on his own. But then Alan went back to sleeping rough, until one day a staff member at Ty Gobaith Lifehouse approached him in Cardiff.
“We were walking up the road and I remember [the] staff [member] came running after me that morning and just said ‘come back you're going to be alright’. Ever since that day I've never looked back.
“It was like a second chance which I've never had in life. You cannot put a price on that, to get a second chance like that, to turn your life around - and The Salvation Army were the people that did that for me,” added Alan.
Leaving isolation and learning to live with Dementia: Alastair's story
Alastair, 76, was a chartered surveyor who worked predominately overseas. When he stopped working in 2001 he spent significantly more time at their home in Edinburgh. It was during this time that his wife Isobel started to notice her husband was showing signs of dementia.
Isobel, said: “I noticed that he definitely had a problem with his memory. He had no interest in anything. He lost contact with people that he knew so had no friends. It was quite difficult. Alastair’s mobility had reached a stage where he couldn't manage to get out on his own, and unfortunately it got to the stage where I couldn't look after him.”
Isobel started to look for care homes when she came across The Salvation Army’s Davidson House in Edinburgh.
Isobel added: “We had his name down for here [Davidson House, Edinburgh] and I was really pleased when I heard from them to say they had a vacancy. I've been delighted with the care he's had here. He seems to have settled, which is more than he had in the other places; he kept packing his bags to leave.
“I think it's really nice. The staff are particularly caring, they really look after Alistair and I just can't fault them at all.”
Rebuilding a life away from addiction and crime: Andy’s story
Andy was suffering from drug addiction and sleeping rough when he was referred to The Salvation Army’s rehabilitation centre, Gloucester House in Swindon.
Andy, said: “I turned to crime daily to fund my addiction. A lot of people in various pubs around Swindon know me as the meat man as I used to steal meat and sell it in pubs.”
When he arrived at Gloucester House, he started to feel more at peace than he had in years. He said: “I saw the hope sign above the door and felt that warm feeling. I was still on medication when I came so I was sort of detoxed here. I struggled physically for a bit, and emotionally, but it felt like home. It felt like finally throughout all those years of using I had finally found a place where I could start afresh.”
Andy is now working at Gloucester House and supporting people with addictions recover and rebuild their lives.
“I'm not capable of expressing what The Salvation Army has done for me. Life's amazing - I have contact with my daughter, which is just amazing. I'm in a relationship, I'm employed, I'm a tax payer, I've got a clean driving license, I play golf.”
In the UK and Republic of Ireland The Salvation Army’s work includes more than 800 community churches and social centres offering compassionate support, a listening ear, and practical help. In addition to church services, the church and charity runs activities such as lunch clubs for older people, community choirs, emergency food donations, night shelter drop-ins, playgroups for children, debt advice and employment services.
To support the Big Collection, members of the public can also text BCOL17 and the amount they want to donate to 70070.