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The Salvation Army            

                            December 2008



Salvation ArmyIt is that time of year again - shops and streets full of lights and Christmas decorations; a general hustle and bustle – and every so often a group of people from the Salvation Army standing on a corner singing and collecting money.

The Salvation Army is as traditional in the UK Christmas scene as town centre Christmas trees and Christmas carols in churches.


But what do they actually do?

Yes, there is a religious aspect, after all the Salvation Army is a church as well as a registered charity. But it is also one of the largest, most diverse providers of social services in the UK and across the world.

William BoothThe Salvation Army was started by William Booth who was born in Nottingham in 1829. He originally moved to London to work in the pawnbroking trade, and joined the local Methodist Church.  He decided to become a minister and started preaching, especially in the east end of London. Among the dreadful poverty, he realized that practical help was also needed, and in 1865 he formed his own movement, the Christian Mission, an evangelical Christian Church and also a human service agency. It changed its name to the Salvation Army in 1878.

Today, the Salvation Army’s message is still based on the bible, to proclaim the gospel, but it has also continued with its mission to persuade people of all ages to engage in a programme of practical concern for the needs of humanity. It helps everyone, regardless of race, creed, colour or gender.

Its work is funded through donations from its members, the general public and sometimes from local authorities and government grants.

Across the UK, the Salvation Army church and community centres offer a range of activities and services within their local communities. People can become involved in all sorts of ways, through volunteering with fundraising initiatives, attending church services and helping with local activities.

The Salvation Army also supports the work of the emergency services by providing refreshments, shelter and counselling at major incidents. Recently this has included the London bombings and the severe floods in Carlisle and Boscastle.

In the UK and Republic of Ireland, The Salvation Army has approximately:

  • 50,000 members
  • 4,000 employees
  • 1,500 Salvation Army officers (full-time ministers)  

It provides an enormously wide ranging group of activities and support programmes including:  

  • 3,000,000 meals served every year at community and residential centres
  • 79,000 prisoners visited each year in 134 prisons
  • 3,000 homeless people given food and shelter every night in 59 centres
  • 776 local church and community centres
  • 636 elderly people accommodated every night in 17 residential centres
  • 300 youth clubs providing a caring environment for young people
  • 120 drop-in centres offering support and help for people in need
  • 70 day centres for elderly and disabled people
  • 50 nurseries and playgroups
  • 20 Red Shield support centres for military personnel in the UK, Germany and the Falkland Islands
  • 12 people reunited every working day with their families through the Family Tracing Service
  • 6 residential centres for victims of alcohol and drug abuse
  • 6 centres for families and one community home for children
  • 2 centres for people with special needs
  • 2 employment training centres
  • 1 centre for women escaping from domestic violence


Over the years, the Salvation Army has also grown internationally and there are now over 1.6 million members worldwide. Their international programme covers 115 countries and includes homeless centres, drug rehabilitation centres, schools, hospitals and medical centres, as well as nearly 16,000 church and community centres.

This Christmas they are running a special Christmas appeal to offer practical help and emotional support to people who may be lonely, forgotten or suffering real difficulties over the Christmas period. This includes providing a proper Christmas dinner and friendship for lonely or older people.

More information about the Salvation Army is available on


Salvation Army: Together

The Salvation Army have just recorded a new album featuring a collection of secular and religious tracks including favourites such as Nessun Dorma, You Raise me Up and Going Home (the Hovis theme) to Make me a Channel of Your Peace and the Christmas favourite In the Bleak Midwinter.

Proceeds from sales will go to the work of The Salvation Army across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.



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