The Salvation Army is here for the people of Leeds 365 days a year.
The charity, which is closely associated with helping the vulnerable at Christmas, works with a wide range of groups across the city throughout the year.
Its Leeds centres seek to provide a real sense of community, offering a safe welcoming space to everyone.
In Bramley, The Salvation Army provides a place of belonging at the heart of a new housing estate. Its team at the hub and daycare/nursery encourage people to share their lifeskills and talents and to meet each other in a friendly environment.
Captain Caroline Heward, who leads the community engagement work, said: “From providing a space for people to get together for tea and toast to encouraging them to create and participate in activities at the hub, we are continually looking for ways of sharing our space and unique skills to build a strong resilient community that’s there for each other. As part of that, The Salvation Army provides a place to belong and encourages people to gather and take part in community life. It’s a great place to be.”
In West Hunslet, The Salvation Army supports the community through a lunch club for older people who would otherwise be isolated. In nearby Beeston, The charity has been working for 15 years focusing on young people, their families and the community. The team has committed to live in the community in order to be a constant presence so they can be there to support and nurture young people and their families. They offer a variety of programmes and activities, to build positive relationships in the hope of seeing their lives and the wider community transformed.
In Leeds city centre, the Central church, on Nile Street, captures the multiculturalism of the city within its congregation and activities. Its African choir brings a particular energy to church life. You will likely spot its church members on a Sunday in the city as they take their church outdoors.
From its city-centre hub, the church works hard to support those most vulnerable or in need. Each Monday evening, a volunteer team cooks and serves a hot two-course meal to people experiencing homelessness, in addition to the emergency food support available.
The hub’s charity shop in Meanwood also works with various agencies to provide clothing for people in need at no cost.
Across the city in Morley, the church helps jobseekers from 10am to noon on a Thursday. It guides those updating CVs, making job searches or writing letters. Helpful volunteers also walk those with limited computer literacy through basic computing skills to enable them to keep up to date with job applications.
Church leader Captain Richard Weston said: “It can be a massive hurdle for someone applying for jobs with little or no computer skills so we work to help them through this process. The kettle is on throughout the session and we want people who come in to feel valued and supported.”
The church works as part of Leeds Food Aid provision as well as operating a lunch club offering hot meals at reasonable prices. Parents and toddlers keep the hub busy during the week with a variety of activities on offer. There is also a chance to relax and make new friends at a more sedate parent-and-toddler session.
To find The Salvation Army church nearest to you, visit www.salvationarmy.org.uk/find-a-church.