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Salvation Army sees surge in demand

The Salvation Army has seen an unprecendented increase in the number of people seeking help in securing basic essentials like food as a result of the recession.

Major Wayne Loveless, the man responsible for the Army’s social services, said there had been a surge in people seeking help since Christmas.

Major Loveless, executive director of the Army’s Emergency Shelter and Food Programmes said: “We are now facing the challenge of ordering food weekly since Christmas versus every two weeks prior to Christmas 2011.

“Since the beginning of the year alone, the Salvation Army has seen a significant increase in client service to the food bank.

“We are averaging five new sign-ups daily as compared to ten new sign-ups per month. On the whole we are averaging 25 families daily, however on February 7, we served 56 families of which 28 were new sign-ups.”

The increase in demand has seen the Salvation Army more than double its purchases for the Food Bank from a year ago.

In January, 2011 the Army spent $3,588.15 on food, compared to $8,298.45 spent in the first four weeks of 2012 alone. That increase was evident in the Christmas drive numbers as well.

“In 2010 we served 2,816 individuals compared to Christmas 2011 when we served 3,128 individuals, which represents an increase of ten percent. We were grateful to have had 28 social agencies and various government departments partner with us to meet as many needs as possible.”

The increased demand means the Salvation Army is hoping for more donations than usual when it launches its annual Red Shield Appeal in May.

Divisional Commander Shawn Critch said: “The Salvation Army continues to pursue partnerships within the corporate community in support of our Community & Family Service programmes. We are committed to the needs of the community during these challenging times.

“We are also aware of the need for prudent financial management while building collaboration with like-minded charities within the community.”

Financial support will also be needed for the army’s dinner programme where hot meals are served five nights a week at the army’s North Street Citadel. The changing faces of those in need are evident there as well.

Major Loveless said: “Historically more men show up for the free meal served five days a week, but for the first time in recent years, we are serving just as many women as men. Before it was always more single men at the free food service outlet evenings.”

Major Loveless, who has direct responsibility for Thrift Shop, Food Bank, the Christmas Hamper-Santa’s Anonymous Drive, Harbourlight and the Emergency Shelter, said: “We’re going into three years now where we’ve seen a continual increase every year. This brings about a bit of concern because, how long can you continue to maintain the necessary items, whether they are money to purchase the items or food to be able to supply the people in their basic need?

“All signs would indicate that people who are coming to us now are people who are not necessarily people who have no job at all, it’s people who had a job and now they either don’t have a job or the job that they have just doesn’t pay enough to be able to make ends meet.

“I think Bermuda as a country needs to have a serious look at it and it indicates to me two things, its either that they’ve lost their jobs or the income that they once received is just not there any more and therefore they come looking for basic needs to either feed their children or feed themselves.

“If they need help we certainly encourage them to come and see us and we will do what we can with what we have, while we have food, while we have funds to be able to buy the food, we will go out to continually meet the needs of people.”

Photo by Akil Simmons Increased demand: The Salvation Army's Major Wayne Loveless says more and more people are seeking help.

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Published February 14, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 14, 2012 at 5:57 am)

Salvation Army sees surge in demand

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