Major Estelle Blake, a church leader at the Christian charity Salvation Army shared her insights about desperate and impoverished communities in the UK.
Based on the Salvation Army’s new research, 64% of UK households have been facing deprivation, due to constant worries about the cost of living, debt, pressure and stress.
Major Blake expressed her concerns about communities not being able to find joy this Christmas. She says many people are desperate, lonely and hopeless due to concerns about paying bills and staying warm: “We’ve certainly had cases in the area I live in of people hearing about older people getting on a bus all day, which they can with their free bus pass, and just staying on the bus because they know somebody might say hello to them when they’re on the bus. People just sit around in cafes buying one cup of tea that maybe costs them a pound and lasts them for three to four hours, with the hope that they might find some really friendly people. The comfort and the joy the Salvation Army bring into that isn’t just because the person is desperate for a cup of tea. They’re desperate for somebody just to say, ‘Hi, how are you?’ Or smile at them.”
She encourages Christians to offer a helping hand this Christmas to people in need within their communities. She is certain that the Salvation Army can also make a real difference. They will be providing 76,000 toy parcels to children in need this year and at least 3,000 beds for the homeless.
According to Major Blake: “We have residential places, we have emergency pop-up places where we work alongside other churches – but Christmas isn’t just the time of us giving people things, it is a time of working with people, not just now but through the year. I’m going to support one of our local Salvation Army’s on Christmas Day, by picking people up and spending Christmas Day with them – having some fun with them and making sure they realise that there are people who care.”