THE HORSHAM Salvation Army has seen a dramatic increase in the number of young families coming to them in financial crisis.
A record number of people in the district are now being housed in bed and breakfast accommodation and Salvation Army Captains Sue and Ian Woodgate are working on the front line with them every week at their Thursday Hope-In sessions.
And as Christmas approaches, they are asking the people of Horsham district to help them in the coming weeks and months by volunteering or donating tinned food and toiletries.
Ian said: “In the past few weeks we have had lots of children here.
“People are coming in crisis. They may have had their benefits stopped or they may be being reassessed or their situation has suddenly changed.
“The Salvation Army is quite unique in that we help employed people as well as people on benefits.
“This year we have been able to give people clothing and toiletries as well. Just to be able to provide toothpaste and a toothbrush to someone is really valuable.”
Every Thursday from 6pm, people come to the centre in Booth Way to have something to eat, talk to someone, get advice about jobs or housing and by prior arrangement have a shower in the wet room.
For a suggested donation of £1.50 each week, they can also have a food parcel to last them a week.
When people first come to them, volunteers assess their needs and they are given eight sessions of help to start with.
Ian said: “After registration, they are given eight sessions of help.
“After eight sessions, it’s not ‘goodbye’. We reassess where they are, direct them to other help and if they continue to need help, we can give it to them.”
Sue added: “There are some people who may just need help for a week. Other people get to the eight sessions and still really need help.
“We had one guy who was on a low income and was really struggling. Rents in Horsham are huge.
“He was being good with his money and we helped him for 11 weeks until he was in a position where he could work and be on a manageable wage.
“People tend to have a misunderstanding that those who are unemployed don’t want to work, but it’s not true.
“Very few people are there because they want to be. It’s about self esteem as well.
“In the past we have seen a lot of young men, but now we are seeing young women with families or people in their late fifties whose marriages have broken up.
“We have three children and we know what it’s like. Their feet grow and that’s £200.
“What if your whole income is your budget for the month?”
To help The Salvation Army on their Thursday night Hope In group by being a listening ear or serving refreshments or to give donations of food or money call, Sue or Ian at the centre on 01403 254624.