Judge and Jury: Why this Army won’t find its salvation in new uniforms - The Salvation Army should highlight some of its more exciting work, such as international disaster relief, rather than just a change to its uniform if it wants to attract you

It is always going to be a problem recruiting young people for an organisation with the traditions and trappings of the Salvation Army. The announcement regarding the updating of the uniforms will probably do more for the recruitment drive however than the change of uniform itself.

It is always going to be a problem recruiting young people for an

organisation with the traditions and trappings of the Salvation Army.

The announcement regarding the updating of the uniforms will probably do

more for the recruitment drive however than the change of uniform

itself.



If the objective of last week’s announcement was to generate national

press coverage around the charity and its ’hidden face’ then it was a

job well done. Substantial coverage in at least five national newspapers

- positive in the main - sent out clear messages (to those who got

beyond the headline) that the Salvation Army is more than a bunch of old

ladies in bonnets.



Who among us realised for instance that it is involved in international

disaster relief or in providing help for victims of domestic

violence?



Perhaps it should be concentrating on communicating these aspects of the

charity since it is surely the ’active’ side of the Salvation Army and a

wider understanding of its values and charity work that will draw in new

recruits.



A new uniform? Not so sure. For most young people a uniform - whatever

it looks like - is a turn-off. Young people strive for independence and

finding their own style is an important part of this. Uniforms, whoever

they’re designed by, smack of the conformity and herd mentality that

they are trying to avoid.



However, I do have that sinking feeling that it’s not so much the

uniform but the people in it that is the problem for the Salvation Army.

Say what you like but even a pair of jeans, a sweatshirt and a baseball

cap suddenly becomes very unappealing to a teenager when it is being

worn by someone who looks uncannily like his granny.



I believe the way forward is evolution rather than revolution - yes,

bring the uniform up to date - but don’t try too hard. The uniform is an

important part of the Salvation Army’s heritage and it shouldn’t feel

pressurised into radical change.



But if it is serious about keeping pace and growing its ranks then more

focus on how it spends its money rather than how it dresses the people

who collect it might help the cause.



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