Top tips for Salvation Army Officers moving appointment

A matchfactory exclusive!  As Salvation Army Officer appointments in the UK are made public today, we’ve consulted some battle-hardened officers, seasoned in the art of justice-seeking, to offer some top tips for the Officer who is moving appointment and wants to be ready to get going quickly.  There’s some tips in there that might be relevant even if you’re not moving, and even if you’re not an Officer!

They are in no priority order – some can be done before, some when you’re there.  In any case, soak up the wisdom of what they’ve got to say!

  1. Check out who the MP is for your new corps (and quarters in case they’re different!) at this website.
  2. Email the MP to arrange a one to one meeting on your arrival for the purpose of developing a public, trust-based relationship
  3. Same as above for local councillors
  4. Same as above for key reporters at the local paper
  5. Check whether the constituency is a marginal seat (if so, please get in touch with us as we’d love to work with you in the build-up to the next general election)
  6. Use this website to learn more about poverty indicators in your area
  7. Use this website to learn more about the ward and neighbourhood surrounding your new appointment.
  8. On arrival, prepare a plan for systematic visitation, including everyone connected to the Corps. Start with the leadership team – the inner circle – and work outwards.  Keep an open mind and be ready to listen.  And be ready to share your story too.
  9. Ask each person what makes them angry.
  10. Ask people who attend community programmes what worries them about the community.
  11. Ask your new neighbours who the ‘movers and shakers’ are in the neighbourhood or what 1 thing you need to know about the community as a newcomer.
  12. Read about the political history of your new community. Use google or local history library.
  13. Buy a local newspaper and highlight all the local political stories. Can you identify what issues are important to your neighbourhood?  Set up a google alert for news from your new area.
  14. Stick to your visitation plan. Don’t get sucked into activities or programmes.
  15. Identify those in the congregation who are passionate about social justice.
  16. Walk from the quarters to the Corps for the first few weeks. Take a different route each time and make a note of other churches, faith institutions, community organisations ready to follow up at a later date.
  17. Read Marching Towards Justice for an introduction to community organising and The Salvation Army.
  18. Subscribe to www.matchfactory.org

Have you found these tips useful? Do you have any more to add? Share them in the comments below – if they’re good we’ll add them to the list!

A nightshelter to a housing campaign: I had no power but you showed me how to take it back

By John Clifton

A week on Thursday, Ilford Salvation Army will open its night shelter for the 5th consecutive winter.  During this time, hundreds of people have stayed in the shelter, which accommodates 28 people per night.  For those 93 nights, during the coldest part of the year, the Corps building becomes ‘home’.  However, we’re very aware that sleeping on a camp-bed in our upstairs hall doesn’t constitute fullness of life.  Let’s take a look at Matthew 25 again:

“Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 

Continue reading “A nightshelter to a housing campaign: I had no power but you showed me how to take it back”

What gets measured gets managed… So measure relationships more than money

By John Clifton

There is a classic quote about management which says “what gets measured gets managed”. However, the full quote, as Simon Caulkin points out, says this:

What gets measured gets managed – even when it’s pointless to measure and manage it, and even if it harms the purpose of the organisation to do so.

In community organising terms power is defined as the capacity to act. There are two types of power: organised people and organised money. For most churches there’s not usually much money so we rely on the power of our people and the depth of the relationships that people build with each other. When it comes to the state and the market, however, they don’t have many people but they do have money. We can all think of obvious examples of how the state uses money as a lever of power: taxation, fines, tendering processes. We can think of even more obvious examples for how the market uses money as a lever of power.  Just a week or so ago I met a family of five, the three children were all in primary school, whose debit card had been used fraudulently and, despite their attempts, had not yet been reimbursed the money that they had lost.  When I met them they were waiting for the money to be put back into their account on Monday. Their account had been overdrawn since the week before and they had been threatened with charges for the overdraft. The family were scared, disoriented, and unfamiliar with such a situation. They came to The Army for help to get through the weekend.  This is just one example of how the market and its money impinges upon the everyday life of people.  It even happens accidentally simple sheet or simply due to bureaucratic or technological errors.  It becomes the responsibility of the power of people (civil society) to push back against the power of money (state and market). Continue reading “What gets measured gets managed… So measure relationships more than money”

Visitation for social change

Last Monday, we discussed ‘the craft of visitation‘.  We reflected on its importance to the role of a Salvation Army Officer: the need for all Salvationists to be involved in visiting, that visitation is a skill that can be developed, and that it is a discipline that is important to plan and prioritise.

IMG_0029In Thurday’s guest-post, Commissioner Birgitte Brekke-Clifton said “Building relationships this way is the key to ‘success’.”   In this context, we are defining success as ‘effecting social change’ and this is something Commissioner Birgitte knows a lot about, being one of the co-founders of Others, a Salvation Army social enterprise.  A social enterprise is an intervention in the market.  In Sally Ann – Poverty to Hope about the early days of Others, when it was known as Sally Ann, there is a description of a change in mindset that took place when people realised they should no longer be ‘recipients of development aid or charitable handouts’ but rather ‘business partners.’  Let’s consider how this ‘change in mindset’ might be applied to our practice of visitation in two ways: Continue reading “Visitation for social change”

Review: “…challenging, inspiring, exciting and “Army”!”

Guest post by Commissioner Birgitte Brekke-Clifton

Marching Towards Justice‘ is the best publication I have read in a long time.  It is challenging, inspiring, exciting and “Army”!

SubstandardFullSizeRenderIt gives us glimpses of ‘the heroic stories of the past’: the early Salvation Army – ‘a revolutionary movement seeking to turn the world upside down – an Army born for justice-seeking’.  In doing so, it gives us a timely reminder of who we were raised up to be and what we were raised up to do.

The chapter on methodology is excellent and should be read and lived out by every Corps/ Centre in the Army world. It lists four key essential elements necessary to be successful in transforming neighbourhoods: Continue reading “Review: “…challenging, inspiring, exciting and “Army”!””

The Craft of Visitation

While doing some of the research for Marching Towards Justice, we were excited to re-discover some of the great advice that is held in Orders and Regulations for Salvation Army Officers (O&R).  We focussed particularly on the sections on ‘visitation’, which is defined there as personal contact with people… where they are to be found, with a view to furthering each other’s spiritual interests.  We take it as self-evident that seeking to further someone’s spiritual interests involves a concern about their material wellbeing.

View More: http://aboutanja.pass.us/salvationarmyFor example, if you’re concerned about how somebody’s Bible study is going, you also need to be concerned about whether they are being paid a fair wage in order to put food on the table for their family, or whether the children have enough space to do their homework, or whether the whole family feels safe on their way to work or school.  While the earthly and spiritual might be formally distinct, the two are joined together so tightly that neither can survive separation.  It is therefore implicit that a visit should lead to action. Continue reading “The Craft of Visitation”