Salvation Army Worthing supports families in need at Christmas

Families facing financial hardship are being supported by The Salvation Army this Christmas.

Thursday, 12th December 2019, 2:49 pm

Parcels containing food and gifts are being sent out to 250 families, helping to put a smile on the faces of children who have very little.

Volunteers have been busy at the Welcome In centre in Crescent Road, Worthing, sorting and packing individual parcels, tailored for the different families that will receive them.

Major Marian Parker, corps officer, said: “The need seems to grow each year. We see more and more families who are just struggling.

Volunteers at Salvation Army Worthing packing Christmas parcels. Picture: Derek Martin DM19121690a

“Life is getting harder for everybody and jobs are less secure. Everybody feels it but there are certain families who really, really do feel the pinch.”

The Worthing Salvation Army Citadel has been giving out parcels each Christmas for many years but this is the first time Vanessa Fraser, the new community programme manager, has been in charge of the process.

She said they have had to have a different approach this year, due to the introduction of GDPR, but a carefully organised system had been put in place to ensure parcels were packed according to family dynamics.

She explained: “It is all done on referrals. All we need to know is how many adults, how many children and the ages.

“Letters were sent out to contacts we have built up over the years and we have also sent out letters to teachers and social workers, looking for families in need.

“Using the referral form, each parcel of food and toys has been packed for the specific family needs.”

All the items for the parcels were new and most were bought by The Salvation Army, thanks to generous donations, though some came from collections in the area, such as those made by schools for harvest festival.

In total, 6,500 food items were purchased and 250 parcels were made up for families living in the area from Goring in the west to the River Adur in the east and north to the A27.

Volunteers have been busy all week, packing up the parcels for collection.

Marian said: “This week was the main week but some people have been working on this for months.

“There used to be a saying ‘where there’s a need, there’s the Salvation Army’ and we do try to live up to this.

“We couldn’t do it without the volunteers and we always need more volunteers for our programmes. Although it hasn’t happened this year, every now and again we get people come along who offer to volunteer because they have had a parcel in the past.”

Each parcel includes food to make meals, treats, toiletries and gifts for the children.

The Worthing church is continuing another, more recent, Christmas tradition with its festive celebration in the Welcome In café on Thursday, December 19, from 10am to 2pm. The event will conclude with half an hour of carols accompanied the church’s brass band.

As the new year approaches, Worthing Salvation Army will be continuing its Welcome In community programme and a call has gone out for volunteers to help make a positive difference to others.

The church will also be hosting the Worthing Winter Night Shelter on Fridays from January to March.

There are a number of different ways people can help. For more information on how you can get involved, contact the reception on 01903 234497.