Charity Spotlight: 145 years of The Salvation Army

Charity Spotlight: 145 years of The Salvation Army

The Scottish Housing News Charity Spotlight feature highlights the vital work of charities across Scotland each Friday. To include your local charity, whether housing-related or not, send your story and images to us at

For 145 years The Salvation Army has been helping the most vulnerable and marginalised people in Scotland.

Through its network of churches, community centres, shops and social services, it looks to help people overcome the complex reasons that led them to look for help in the first place – issues such as homelessness, unemployment, poor mental health, addiction, domestic violence, trauma and isolation.

Scotland’s first Salvation Army church was opened at the Victoria Music Hall in Anderston, Glasgow, on Sunday 24 March 1879. Eliza Milner and Ann Prentice pioneered the mission work.

Today, The Salvation Army has 73 community churches across Scotland and operates commissioned services for older people and people who are homeless. It also runs services for adults with learning disabilities, emergency services support vans and provides a chaplaincy service at Glasgow International Airport.

Charity Spotlight: 145 years of The Salvation Army

Some of the Salvation Army’s programmes now take place through floating support rather than residential settings, often linked to a church. Some of its work is developed in partnership with academia, such as the Salvation Army Centre for Addiction Services and Research based at The University of Stirling. Churches are now also community hubs with food banks, Employment Plus and debt advice services, as well as friendship clubs.

An example of how The Salvation Army works at the heart of communities across Scotland is in the Scottish Borders town of Hawick - where more people than ever are reaching out for support.

Church leader Captain Caroline Brophy-Parkin says rising costs are affecting everyone.

Caroline, who was awarded an MBE for her work supporting vulnerable people in Hawick during the pandemic, said: “We are seeing a lot more people, particularly people with jobs, looking for help. Rising costs are affecting every aspect of their daily life. We have people who are working good jobs coming to us saying they can’t afford to eat. It’s heart-breaking.

Charity Spotlight: 145 years of The Salvation Army

“People’s salaries aren’t rising but their outgoings definitely are. We are seeing a lot of people who are on shorter-hour contracts who are really struggling to afford to live.

“When the food bank began more than 10 years ago we did around 300 food parcels a year. In 2023 we gave out 1600 food parcels. That is for a town with a population of 14,000 people.

“We can see the growing need, which is why we do more than just give out food parcels. We run a range of programmes throughout the week from our church on Croft Road to our community hub in Burnfoot. These programmes look to tackle the main problems people in this community face. Issues such as poverty, debt, unemployment and mental health. We also work closely with substance use groups as well so that we can signpost people to the right support.”

The Salvation Army in Hawick runs a daily food bank, mental health support group, social group for woman, toddler group, debt advice service, drop-in, community garden, coffee Morning, Lego club and charity shop.

For more information about The Salvation Army in Scotland visit or follow @TSA_Scotland on X.

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