Report Finds 66 Percent of Salvation Army Youth Programs Saw Increased Need since 2008

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Toronto, ON May 21, 2013 – A new report from The Salvation Army, released as part of Dignity Month, reveals that despite a rebounding economy, many Canadian families and young people are still struggling to make ends meet. “Youth in Need: The Economic Challenges,” revealed that since the recession began in 2008, 66 percent of Salvation Army youth programs in Canada saw an increase in demand for low-fee or free extracurricular programs and meals during those difficult times. Despite an increase in volunteerism and donations at some centres, other Salvation Army programs were forced to cut back, or discontinue services.

Salvation Army facilities, including community centres, meal programs, camps, preschools, daycare, after-school programs, and other youth ministries have witnessed the growing need since 2008. More than 180 respondents from cities across the country, including Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Halifax, Windsor, London, Ottawa, Toronto and St. John’s, provided input for the report on how services were impacted.

SA_Canada_Youth_Report_2013-1“Children were affected just as much as adults during the recession. Jobs were lost and people struggled with their finances. This changed what activities they could afford and affected their ability to feed their families,” said Major Keith Pike, Territorial Youth Secretary for The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda.  “We have seen families look to cut costs by visiting our services. By providing a sense of dignity and a safe space where kids can be kids, positive choices are made that often keep those kids out of harm’s way.”

From music lessons to athletics and food programs, The Salvation Army has a wide range of programs for children and their families. According to The Salvation Army’s most recent annual report, The Salvation Army assisted more than 1.8 million people in 2011, up from 1.7 in 2010. The Salvation Army continues to provide care and assistance to as many people as possible, despite increasing demand.

The Salvation Army saw increases in support to meet the recession’s challenges. Generous support from donors and volunteers has allowed 53 percent of Salvation Army youth facilities to expand services and meet the growing needs head on.

Key findings from “Youth in Need” include:

 Demand:

  • Sixty-six percent of youth programs reported seeing an increase in demand since 2008.
  • One-third of programs reported to be full or at capacity.

 Donations and Volunteerism:

  • Thirty-six percent of Salvation Army youth services reported seeing an increase in donations to their programs since 2008.
  • At one-third of programs, donation levels remained unchanged last year, allowing demand to be met.
  • Forty-seven percent of programs saw volunteerism rates increase in the last year.
  • Notably, only 13 percent of programs saw decreases in volunteerism in 2012.
  • Due to generous support, 53 percent of programs expanded capacity and services since 2008.
  • Since 2008, 30 percent of programs were cut back or discontinued, mainly due to a lack of resources (financial or volunteers).

 “As we honour Dignity Month throughout May, it’s important to understand the vital role that Salvation Army youth programs play in the lives of children in need,” said Burditt. “The Salvation Army will work with all available resources to ensure that these programs, dedicated to serving our youth, continue to not only exist, but to thrive, for as long as there is a need for such services.”

Youth in Need: The Economic Challenges is based on data collected during an internal review of Salvation Army youth programs between March 11th and March 29th, 2013.  The review examined the recession’s impact on youth services and programs provided by Salvation Army staff members and administrators. Salvation Army youth programs and services include meal/food services, arts/theatre/music, athletics, health/nutrition and tutoring/education programs.

Donors and volunteers can financially support, or learn more about The Salvation Army and its youth services by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY or by visiting www.SalvationArmy.ca.  The Salvation Army is the nation’s largest non-governmental direct provider of social services, providing approximately 2.8 million meals to Canadians last year. The detailed findings from “Youth in Need: Repercussions of the Recession on Canadian Youth” are available online at www.SalvationArmy.ca.

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About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is an international Christian organization that began its work in Canada in 1882 and has grown to become the largest non-governmental direct provider of social services in the country. The Salvation Army gives hope and support to vulnerable people today and everyday in 400 communities across Canada and more than 120 countries around the world. The Salvation Army offers practical assistance for children and families, often tending to the basic necessities of life, providing shelter for homeless people and rehabilitation for people who have lost control of their lives to an addiction. When you give to The Salvation Army, you are investing in the future of marginalized and overlooked people in your community.

News releases, articles and updated information can be found at www.SalvationArmy.ca

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