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Monday, June 15, 1998 Published at 05:46 GMT 06:46 UK


Wanted: New image for the Sally Army

Army members wear a military-style uniform

The Salvation Army is considering a revamp of its image which is considered by some to be "old fashioned".

But the Christian organisation has pledged not to shed its famous uniforms and brass bands.

The decision for an image re-think is the result of a major survey commissioned by the group to find out how the public perceives it.

There was good and bad news. While an overwhelming majority (95%) had heard of the "Sally Army" and most (82%) knew of its dual religious and charitable roles, few appreciated the full range of its work.

Everyday images

Apart from the everyday images of helping the homeless and brass bands, few people knew of its work with the unemployed, battered women and its role in disaster relief.

The Army wants to become more active in getting its message across, especially to younger people.

Head of the Salvation Army in the UK, Commissioner John Gowans, said the organisation was planning to bridge the gap between perception and reality.

'Goodwill demonstrated'

"Overall we are greatly encouraged by the goodwill demonstrated time and again in this research," he said.

Head of external affairs Captain Bill Cochrane added: "We do have great numbers of young people, and last year the number joining showed an increase."

But although some Army Corps organised more modern musical activities for young soldiers, uniformed brass bands would still be seen on the streets in the future, he said

'Uniforms not negotiable'

Captain Cochrane added: "They are the most visible aspect of the Salvation Army. Uniforms are not negotiable, they are here to stay.

"Brass bands are very popular across the country, and they are also here to stay."

Founded in 1865, the Salvation Army has become a global institution famed for its combination of Christianity and charity.

  • It was originally called the Christian Revival Association, then the East London Christian Mission. It got its present name in 1878.

  • It is now the largest single provider of social welfare in the world. In the UK, only the government does more for social services.

  • There are some two million Salvation Army volunteers in around 95 countries worldwide.

  • In the UK, the Army has 1,600 officers and almost 5,000 employees, who run projects including 50 hostels, 26 centres for the elderly and even a bail unit.

  • The militaristic terminology grew out of a perceived need to make decisions and implement policy quickly.

  • Some 81,500 copies of The War Cry, its publication, are sold in the UK each week, mainly through pubs.

  • Among lesser-known aspects of its work is the tracing of lost relatives. Last year it helped reunite 3,000 broken families.

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