The Salvation Army is launching its Big Collection annual fundraising appeal which helps support thousands of people facing poverty, homelessness, isolation and modern slavery in the UK and Ireland.
Throughout September members and friends of the Christian church and charity will be out in force in their local areas raising money for its network of social and community services.
Volunteer fundraisers will hold a variety of events including charity concerts, bake sales, go door to door or stand in the high street to bring in cash donations to support this vital work. All collectors carry a permit and Salvation Army-branded envelopes or collection tins. Donations can also be made online.
One hundred per cent of all donations are used to support the Salvation Army's social and community services across the UK and Ireland. This includes supporting individuals and families who are homeless, running care homes and day care centres for older people, reuniting long lost families, and providing a place of safety for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking.
Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant of The Salvation Army says: “This has been a difficult few years for the UK, and many people are feeling unsafe, scared and unsupported. Our mission puts us in the front line alongside people who have lost their home, who are desperately lonely and isolated, who struggle with addiction, who are escaping the horrors of modern slavery and who can’t afford to provide food for their families.
“We want to do even more to help them, being a loving friend, relieving suffering, and offering practical help. Help us to give hope where is it needed most, by donating to The Big Collection. Whatever you can give today will enable us to keep working with so many people who need help from our social welfare and community service programmes.”
Donations to The Big Collection will help people like Mary, Adam and Vera:
“I feel like I went to sleep when I was 19 and woke up at the age of 40” Mary’s story
After sleeping on the streets for 20 years, The Salvation Army’s William Booth Lifehouse in Birmingham provided the sanctuary space Mary needed to get free of her addiction to drugs and alcohol. She says: “I feel like I went to sleep when I was 19 and woke up at the age of 40.”
Suffering from mental health challenges as a young person, including anxiety, Mary tried heroin, with the promise it would make her feel better. Sadly, taking the drug led to long-term addiction and a cycle of homelessness, and living on cold and dirty streets. “Heroin numbs out every single emotion,” says Mary. “You don’t cry, you don’t laugh.”
Aged 40, Mary experienced an epileptic fit where she broke both legs. She realised she had reached rock bottom. Shortly afterwards she was referred to The Salvation Army Lifehouse support service for people who are homeless.
The Lifehouse team helped Mary to develop skills to look after herself including preparing healthy meals, doing laundry, budgeting her income, managing her bills and how to claim benefits to which she is entitled.
Service Manager Edward Dixon says: “Working closely with her support worker we sought to provide the nurturing and caring environment to journey with Mary as she literally got back on her feet. Mary’s physical and personal transformation has been remarkable. We’re so proud of everything she has achieved.”
Mary is now living in second-stage supported accommodation and is on the journey to getting her own place.
"My support worker helps to keep me right, checks in with me to see where my head’s at.” Adam’s story
With nowhere to live and struggling with his mental health, Adam found help with Housing First a scheme partly run in Glasgow by The Salvation Army.The service provides people who have periods of repeated homelessness with their own home from which to be supported in their recovery journey.
Adam, 37, had been homeless on and off for the past seven years; veering from emergency accommodation, to insecure housing, to the sofas of friends, and back again.
A road accident as a child changed his personality and contributed to severe mental health problems. “I was hit by a truck when I was thirteen and received an inverse fracture to my skull. I was in a coma for three days and had to learn to walk again.”
As an adult Adam self-medicated with cannabis, using the drug to keep himself tranquilised and in and out of sleep: “I was relying on friends and their sofas. I knew it was only a matter of time before my mental health kicked me to the ground. When I had my breakdown I would not shower for months and just lie in bed watching stuff, refusing to engage. I ended up becoming homeless and I didn’t have the wherewithal to sort out my own accommodation.”
Thanks to Housing First and with extensive and personalised support from The Salvation Army, Adam now has the structure and stability that was previously missing from his life.
“Now my support worker helps to keep me right, checks in with me to see where my head’s at, to see if it’s a day where I’m not going to be doing anything because I can’t face it. They’re very laid back and easy going. I think that’s the large part of why I think it’s such a good project.”
“There’s an ethos and a value that people in The Salvation Army have, which is full of warmth and love and care.” Vera’s story
The Salvation Army currently provides 464 beds in its 12 care homes for older people, including two homes in Scotland and one in Northern Ireland. It’s thanks to the generosity of the public, that people like Vera in Coventry can live a full, abundant, love-filled life that also cares for her spiritual needs.
Vera, who lives with dementia, has resided in the Youell Court Care Home for the last four years. The centre offers specialist care accredited by Dementia Care Matters where staff use conversation, music, singing, group activities, spiritual reflection and worship to create a loving and supportive home.
Her daughter, Susan, who visits regularly, says: “There’s lots of fun and laughter and there’s a huge amount of affection. Mum was a farmer’s wife who got on with the job and was dead practical. She had lots of friends and a lovely social life and to see her enjoying herself is just beautiful, it’s lovely.”
The centre has abolished staff uniforms, created cosy home environments, and implemented a more relaxed schedule of activities and events, with staff training being the biggest investment of time. The care home is decorated in vibrant colours, with familiar settings such as a post office and a traditionally old-fashioned small shop.
Susan added: “The staff are so natural, they just seem to love people. There’s an ethos and a value that people in The Salvation Army have, which is full of warmth and love and care.”
The Salvation Army in figures:
- 8,600 people experiencing homelessness receive help each year at our weekly drop-ins
- 5,690 people on average attend weekly luncheon clubs
- 3,354 victims of modern slavery and human trafficking were helped last year
- 3,081 people every night receive shelter and support from our 67 lifehouses for people who are homeless
- 1,515 new enquiries were made last year to our Family Tracing Service each year, with an average 89% success rate
- 464 beds for older people needing care were provided by our 12 residential care homes