Salvation Army launches Red Shield Appeal as church assists 425 families last month
The Salvation Army launched its 2013 Spring Red Shield Appeal, at a time when record numbers of people are seeking help from their Food Service Programme.
The appeal drive is designed to raise money and public awareness in the ongoing fight against poverty, homelessness and addiction in Bermuda.
In an interview with
The Royal Gazette, Divisional Commander Shawn Critch said: “With the exception of Christmas, which is usually an incredible time for our team, March 2013 was one of the highest months of demand in recent history.”
Some 425 families came through their Family Services Programme last month.
That translated into an estimated 1,000 individuals in need of food to feed their families. Normally that figure runs in the region of 280 families per month.
Said Maj Critch: “Certainly the trend has been consistent for a while, but it is indicative that the economy is not bouncing back anytime soon.
“And there continues to be fallout for helping agencies in fulfilling the increasing need in the community.”
The single biggest increase in demand came from single parent households headed up by mothers who are either unemployed or working reduced hours due to cutbacks in the workplace.
“Last year, single mothers represented 50 percent of all those assisted. That category has now increased to 60 percent of the total year-over-year in the first quarter of 2013,” he said.
But the number of new cases dealt with each month is holding steady, with 160 new cases in the first quarter of last year. That figure went up to 161 new cases during the same period this year.
Family Services Manager Lynn Gordon said the demand is so high that they have gone from ordering food supplies twice a month to once a week.
“There has been a big change in numbers, a drastic increase monthly since the impact of the recession first started,” she said.
From April 1, 2012 through to March 31, 2013 The Salvation Army spent $175,000 on client assistance which included Christmas.
“If you break out Christmas we are spending an average of $6,500 to $7,500 per month on food supplies.
“Some months our purchased goods are hitting $12,000 a month. And that’s just a portion of what we provide given the ongoing in-kind donations of food products from various partners,” said Maj Critch.
Recent news that another helping agency was struggling to meet the increased demand came as no surprise.
This newspaper recently reported that the Eliza DoLittle Society (TEDS) was also hard hit by the surge in numbers.
Executive Director Margaret Ward said TEDS was serving food to 300 people a week to the point where their food bank was empty last week.
Maj Critch said: “The fallout of the recession is taking an increasing toll on many helping agencies in Bermuda.
“Ensuring programme sustainability is critical as we collectively work to realise our responsibility to the community,” he added.
The Salvation Army has implemented financial strategies to ensure that they are “strategically positioned” to meet the increased demand.
But he said: “We must also be conscious of the capacity within the community to financially support a national response by the charitable sector.
“The social realities and demand we all face are not going away any time soon. We must also be aware of our own capacities as well. There is certainly a balance to be identified and realised.”
Letters notifying residents of the new appeal were sent out yesterday.
In that letter Maj Critch said: “As the fallout of the economic reality continues to challenge the country we are working hard to ensure the sustainability of each programme while meeting as many needs as possible.”
He emphasised the importance of “the partnerships of individuals and the corporate community” which is a “very critical component of the success of the various social programmes offered by The Salvation Army”.
“A financial donation to the Salvation Army is a financial donation to the community,” he said.
Also acknowledged was Arch Capital Group Ltd “for its generous launch donation of $25,000 in support of the 2013-14 fundraising campaign”.
The goal this year is to raise $225,000 by the end of June to assist in meeting the army’s funding commitments of $1.1 million of this year’s total social programme budget which has been approved at $2 million.
Despite the challenges he was confident that they will reach its goals to help an estimated 5,000 individuals again this year.
The Salvation Army is an international Christian organisation that began its work in Bermuda in 1896 to help support society’s most vulnerable in Bermuda and around the world.
Social services include providing basic necessities, shelter for the homeless and rehabilitation for people who have lost control of their lives to addiction.
The appeal letter concludes: “When you The Salvation Army, you are investing in the future of marginalised and overlooked people in our community.”
For more information call 292-0601.
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