Fifth of population dreading New Year 2012 Shows Salvation Army Survey
The Salvation Army launches its annual Christmas appeal with the news that 15% of people feel less able to cope with problems over Christmas and a fifth of the population is dreading New Year this year because of fears about money, loneliness and concerns about the future in general.
Survey results, based on a poll by Populus of 2,050 adults, confirms The Salvation Army’s experience that Christmas can be a difficult time for certain vulnerable people and those already living through hardship and The Salvation Army’s expectations that demands on its services are likely to increase this year. Across the south west teams of Salvation Army staff and officers and hundreds of volunteers are preparing to make a difference to people who might otherwise be alone, homeless or unable to provide for themselves or their families this Christmas.
Key findings about people’s attitudes to Christmas this year include:Despite the possible tensions of family get-togethers, an overwhelming 75% of respondents plan to spend Christmas with family which is what most people (76%) prefer More people would like to spend Christmas with friends than actually do so and this idea was particularly attractive to younger respondents (30% of 18-24 year olds) 15% of people feel less able to cope with problems over Christmas, particularly younger people and divorcees One fifth of the population is dreading New Year this year because of fears about money (11%), loneliness (7%) and concerns about the future in general (12%)
This year’s Salvation Army’s Christmas fundraising appeal features stories, based on real people’s lives, of three people whose lives were transformed when they came into contact with The Salvation Army at Christmas time.For George, alone on the streets having become homeless after losing his job, The Salvation Army gave him the first sign that somebody cared and provided not only a hot meal and safe place to stay that night but the ongoing support to restore his shattered confidence and start to rebuild his life. With no family left, Shirley felt alone and having to choose between heating her flat or buying some food. When a neighbour told her that The Salvation Army were providing Christmas dinner she not only enjoyed warmth, food and new friends but was helped by staff to claim a fuel allowance so she didn’t have to return to a cold home. Three-year-old Billy was facing a Christmas without a visit from Father Christmas as his mother could hardly pay the bills let alone buy some presents. When The Salvation Army learned of their plight, a box of food and a present for Billy from a ‘Father Christmas’ in Salvation Army uniform was delivered to their flat.
While the UK faces an austere future this Christmas, The Salvation Army is pleased to report that people are responding to the difficult times by continuing to pledge their support at Christmas, including thousands who will give up their family Christmas Day to help provide a festive meal, gifts and celebrations for people who would otherwise be alone and unsupported.
Among the 3,000,000 meals The Salvation Army serves each year, will be thousands served this Christmas Day. This is made possible by volunteers across the country such as Suzanne Davies, a retired Accident and Emergency Sister who volunteered to help at Newton Abbot Salvation Army church’s Christmas lunch three years ago after the death of her mother.
Having previously nursed homeless people in the Whitechapel area of London where The Salvation Army began in 1865, Suzanne was very much aware of the help offered to lonely and vulnerable people by the worldwide Christian church and charity. Her late father had also been a staunch supporter of The Salvation Army since they were instrumental in supporting him and reuniting him with his wife on his return from Dunkirk, having lost everything except the clothes he stood up in.
Suzanne has become a regular helper at the weekly lunch club at Newton Abbot Salvation Army church and will be ‘on duty’ again to cook and serve meals on Christmas Day. The minister of the church, Lieutenant Tracy Collis, has described Suzanne as ‘a cheerful. Lovely, lively lady whose help we really appreciate’.
This research confirming that Christmas is a family time is underlined by The Salvation Army’s experience In the weeks building up to Christmas and following New Year, when its Family Tracing Service traditionally witnesses a marked increase in the number of requests for its service to restore family relationships by tracing relatives with whom contact has been lost.
On average this service deals with more than 3,500 new enquiries a year and, with an 85% success rate, reunites ten family members every day. This will be the first Christmas together in years, or possibly ever, for thousands of families now reunited with a family member they had lost touch with.