Just after Christmas last year a big local business in the Scottish town of Shotts collapsed, leaving 150 workers jobless, with no wages for December. Bosses claimed there was no money to pay the wages.
People were distraught, their lives apparently in ruins. Many left the factory site in tears. But fortunately The Salvation Army was there. When our local church leader Lieutenant Amy-Jo Battersby and her team of staff and volunteers heard about the workers’ plight, they knew they had to help.
As Amy-Jo told us:
‘We sent out a message on social media, inviting people to come and use our hall and computer equipment to look for jobs. I expected one or two people at most to turn up, but on that first day when we opened our centre there were 70 people queuing outside!
‘All of a sudden we were the place where everyone could go. We had recruitment agencies, representatives from the employment service, people from the Department for Work and Pensions and the Jobcentre, benefit advisers, employment rights advisers, members of the UK and Scottish Parliaments and councillors. Network Rail sent thousands of teabags and loads of milk and coffee, and the local foodbank brought food. But perhaps more important than food and drink was the emotional support and friendship we were able to give to some very distressed and anxious people.’
What began as a neighbourly gesture turned into a highly effective response to the crisis.
People left with jobs from the recruiting agencies. Others received advice on how to claim Universal Credit. Many people felt their concerns about how they’d been treated had not been listened to – so having the chance to speak to politicians and councillors was very reassuring.
Local church leader Lieutenant Amy-Jo Battersby
Amy-Jo remembers: ‘There was a lot more hope and people were smiling again.’
The story of Shotts shows how, in times of trouble, The Salvation Army truly is ‘Christianity with its sleeves rolled up’. We help people find practical, effective solutions to their problems. Not just to the kind of crisis that suddenly rocks people’s lives - like a factory closure, a fire or a flood - but also about less visible problems that cause suffering right across the community, such as loneliness and isolation among older people, or the struggles of parents to give their children a decent home.
Please support our appeal today – your support can help to keep us where we need to be – in communities throughout the UK – so that where people are hurting, when they don’t know how they’ll get through the next week, they will always have a friend they can rely on.
A gift of:
- £27 could pay for 12 lonely older people to enjoy lunch and friendship at a Salvation Army community centre.
- £65 could provide clothing and safety equipment for one of our emergency response volunteers.
- £100 could provide one hour of support work for ten homeless people who are trying to make a fresh start in life.
Please make a donation to our appeal today using our secure online donation form - make a donation.