Salvation Army hangs up Salvos Care for new era

NEWS | Anne Lim

Wednesday 22 April 2015

The Salvation Army has shifted its focus from counselling to referrals with the impending closure of the Salvo Care Line and the launch of the Salvation Army Assessment Line (SAL).

Salvation Army spokesman Major Bruce Harmer said the closure of the Salvo Care Line on June 30 resulted from a review of all services over the past two years.

“We’re in the process of rationalising all our services to ensure that we can offer the best services as we position ourselves for tomorrow,” he said.

“We have limited funds and we need to think very wisely about what we do with our funds and try to be good stewards of the money we receive as donations.”

He said callers to the Salvo Care Line would be referred to others services such as Lifeline before June 30. He said Lifeline attracted two million calls a year, making it the preferred provider of counselling, though he admitted that Lifeline counsellors were not allowed to instigate prayer.

He said Salvation Army was endeavouring to support callers, employees and volunteers through the transition period.

The priority areas identified in the review were church work, drug and alcohol facilities and “a new doorways model”.

Launched on April 1, SAL is a third-party call centre that acts as a one-stop-shop for assessing the needs of callers and referring them on to appropriate agencies.

Salvation Army won a tender to establish the service with funds from the government’s emergency relief fund, but it is working with other agencies as it did not win the tender to be the provider in every area.

“This represents a different mindset,” Harmer said. “We say that there is one door, no wrong door. So rather than someone turning up at a Salvation Army centre and wondering if they will receive emergency relief support, they go to their local centre with the assessment process already done over the phone.”

The objective is to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty by reducing dependence on welfare and helping clients find employment.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “In theory the model is terrific. In practice it’s very good, heading towards terrific.”

The need for such a service caught the Salvation Army by surprise with many thousands of calls in the first in the first few weeks, Harmer said.

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