The Salvation Army works in 128 countries around the world, demonstrating Christian faith, hope and love through practical support and friendship to people of all ages, backgrounds and needs.
Forever Strawberry Field
Internationally known as the inspiration for one of The Beatles finest songs, Strawberry Field was, for seventy years, also an inspiration for hundreds of Liverpool’s most vulnerable children as The Salvation Army offered them a safe and loving home away from tumultuous lives.
To the young people that lived there up until closure in 2005 those iconic gates – photographed by thousands of Beatles fans every year – symbolise not the psychedelic sixties but a real sense of spiritual and physical sanctuary. A place to find love and gain self-respect.
It is hoped that the next two years will be a momentous time for the revitalised Strawberry Field as work commences on bringing this iconic space back to life, once again servicing the needs of the most vulnerable members of our society, the young.
“This new project really is a bold merger between us and the city’s Beatles legacy,” says Major Drew McCombe, Divisional Leader in the North West of England and North Wales Division of The Salvation Army. “There are many common values between us and the band’s music and lyrics including love, peace and justice.
“We know there is the mention of ‘no religion’ in the lyrics of Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ but even so I believe it’s okay to raise questions. Our vision is that Strawberry Field will be a safe place to explore questions in community – the project leaves room for spiritual commonality.”
It has been estimated that 7% of people with learning disabilities in the UK are in paid employment and that’s mainly part-time work. However, over 50% of these young people say they would like to be in paid work. That’s a significant shortfall in the number of children being able to fulfil their potential in a meaningful way.
This is precisely why The Salvation Army’s new vision for the Strawberry Field site is so vital – offering a new generation of disadvantaged young people the chance to learn new skills in a safe environment that can lead to real employment and a fulfilling stake in society.
Young people with learning disabilities find it more difficult to deal with complicated issues and new situations than others of their age. Many have problems communicating and interacting with other people. Because of these difficulties, many of these young people lose self-confidence, retreating into themselves and questioning their own worth.
Experience shows that, if people with learning disabilities receive the support they need early in life, many of them can overcome these barriers. This is precisely what the proposed new training centre at Strawberry Field is designed to help young people achieve, by providing education, training, work experience and personal development.
Key to the success of the project is the fundraising phase that The Salvation Army is currently engaged in. Aside from building a working environment and training hub for young people the organisation will create a vibrant visitor experience that will inspire people today as much as it did the young John Lennon.
This will include a multimedia exhibition telling stories from Strawberry Field, the song and Lennon’s early years. It will also include a journey through a newly created Love and Peace garden and a tour of the woodland where John once played as a boy.
“Liverpool is a city that champions social justice,” says Major Drew McCombe. “Likewise, The Salvation Army takes social justice seriously. Everyone has been so welcoming to us as we make plans to reopen Strawberry Field as part of the city’s caring community.
“There are no current funding streams for this project with young people with low to moderate learning difficulties that we want to help,” he continues. “Our belief is that if we can make Strawberry Field a truly sustainable project for those young people, with the help of the city’s vibrant Beatles tourist economy, we will be doing good work.”
However ambitious, this unique and historic project can only happen with the kind support of Beatles fans worldwide.
Play your part in this evolving story by supporting Strawberry Field today.