£1.6m raised last year by magazine sales for people in need
This Christmas, The Salvation Army is celebrating 140 years of War Cry its weekly street-sold publication, which is one of the longest running magazines in the UK.
War Cry has been sold by volunteers since 27 December 1879. What started as a couple of pages produced on a small printing press in Whitechapel, has developed into a campaigning magazine with variations sold in around 131 countries. Last year global sales reached around 1,700,000. The UK & Ireland edition alone raises £1.6 million every year to support the church and charity’s community work.
The paper has always campaigned on social justice issues. In 1885, it shocked Victorian society with its campaign to raise the age of consent to stamp out the widespread abuse of children through prostitution. Recent War Cry issues have reported on The Salvation Army’s frontline work supporting victims of modern slavery and giving shelter to homeless people. Interviews have included an FGM survivor, a former child soldier and a climate change campaigner who took part in Extinction Rebellion protests.
Many War Cry sellers have been distributing the magazine for decades and have become well-known local figures offering a listening ear and support to those they meet while selling the magazine.
In the run up to Christmas this year, Horsham based War Cry seller Ann was approached by a small boy and his mother. As he gave her a donation he said: “This is to say thank you to The Salvation Army for being Santa for my family last year when we didn’t have money for food or presents.”
Two years ago, Michael Atkinson from Preston was inspired to find out more about The Salvation Army after seeing a War Cry seller talking to people in the High Street. Michael is now a Salvation Army church member and regularly raises up to £1,000 selling War Cry, where he has quickly built up a strong rapport with local people.
He said: “People are so willing to give because they know that the money goes directly to do good. I’m privileged to uphold the tremendous place that The Salvation Army has in people’s hearts. I get all the praise for the hard work that goes on back at the corps (church), where right now there are people packing food parcels and putting together toys and gifts for families feeling the pinch this Christmas.”
Editor of War Cry, Major Andrew Stone said: “We are overwhelmingly grateful for the warm reaction and respect people continue to have for the War Cry today. It is an enormous privilege to tell the story of The Salvation Army delivering support to the most vulnerable people and to offer a Christian perspective on current events. Every day members of the public make a beeline for our street sellers to share what’s important in their lives, knowing they will receive a compassionate Christian response.”