Archive for March 24th, 2012
A new report from the Salvation Army in the USA highlights the growing need for its youth programmes during these difficult economic times. As parents struggle to make ends meet, and work increasingly long hours – often holding down two or three jobs – they are depending ever more on the charity’s summer camps, day-care centres, pre-school activities and after-school programmes.
According to “Growing Up In A Downturn” the Salvation Army’s youth work is facing greater demands than ever, as other youth programmes are closing, due to funding cuts, and at the same time the charity itself is facing reduced contributions in many areas. While Christmas donations from the public were up, at the end of last year, and there have been some notable large gifts from wealthy benefactors, overall giving has declined by around 15%. Yet somehow the organisation has to accommodate and provide services for ever more young people, who are regarded by the charity as the “true face of homelessness”; and programmes that were designed to provide recreation, music and the arts are now seen as crucial to alleviating some of the problems associated with poverty, such as drug addiction. Many programmes have waiting lists, as their resources are stretched to the limit, and facilities originally designed for adults are being adapted to cater for younger clients.
While it is perhaps difficult to draw conclusions from this report regarding the situation in countries other than the USA a similar picture is likely to emerge. In the UK the Salvation Army’s South and Mid Wales Division has for many years been running adventure camps for children whose home circumstances would otherwise preclude them from having summer vacations, and the indications are that this year’s camp will accommodate more children than ever. As a Trustee of the Chreda Foundation, which has already sponsored several children to attend the camp in previous years (and will be providing similar support this year) I am delighted to learn that some of the older young people who are ‘veterans’ of the programme are now being trained up as future leaders. To see disadvantaged individuals not only receiving much needed vacations, year after year, but also becoming responsible members of society, helping ensure that others following on can also benefit from similar opportunities, is very satisfying. As a charity we will be continuing to provide whatever support we can to this worthwhile venture. We are also currently planning to expand the outreach of our organisation through a new prize fund which we hope to officially launch later this year or early in 2013. Further details will be published here as soon as they become available.
To read “Growing Up In A Downturn” please see our Reports page.