14th July marked the seventh day after the devastating suicide bomb attacks on London underground. While the city has been trying to recover from the tragedy, the Salvation Army has made great contributions to help in the aftermath. Help and support has been offered in the underground system as well as spiritual support to the families and friends of the victims and missing people.
Seven days after the bomb attacks, the death toll has risen up to 52. The Salvation Army’s Russell Square team has been offering support, friendship and refreshments to the emergency service personnel tasked with recovering bodies still in the underground tunnel.
A fFamily assistance centre run by the Salvation Army has been offering a one-stop shop for worried relatives and friends. In the centre, the police and other statutory services are on hand to offer practical advice and support while the Salvation Army and other voluntary agencies are there to offer emotional support and a listening ear.
The Salvation Army are also providing staff along with Victim Support and Cruse to help operate a Red Cross helpline on 0845 054 7444.
Around 80 Salvation Army personnel have been working at the family centre in Victoria. Today the centre will be relocated and newly opened at the Royal Horticultural Halls, 80 Vincent Square, Westminster SW1P 2PE.
"The not knowing about your relatives may well be worse than knowing that the worst has happened," said Salvation Army officer Major Malcolm Walters at the family centre. "People are carrying photographs and posters of their loved ones around London because there’s always the possibility that, as part of the trauma, someone is wandering around suffering amnesia. A lot of the families are clinging to that."
"We have talked to people of all faiths and no faith at all who come to speak about their most personal feelings and intimate details of a friendship or a relationship and they want a listening ear," he added.
Opposite to King’s Cross Station, where most people died of the bomb attack among all the other sites, the Salvation Army’s Faith House has assisted the emergency services since the first explosion, offering counselling and refreshments.
Faith House has been used as a quiet area for travellers in a state of shock; a place where they can sit down and talk through their experiences and call relatives and loved ones.
Food has been donated by the café chain Prêt a Manger and the local Burger King and distributed by Salvation Army to the people struggled to make their way home as well as emergency service workers.
Salvation Army ministers also bolstered hospital chaplaincy teams across London to provide support and counselling to victims and their families.
"The Salvation Army is proud to have been involved in supporting the emergency services and the people of London during this tragic and traumatic experience," said Salvation Army Chief Secretary Lieut-Col Vic Poke. "We will continue to do all we can to help the emergency services, survivors and the relatives of the bereaved during these difficult days."
Last Sunday, Salvation Army church services in the UK, Ireland and around the world included prayer for those injured and bereaved in Thursday's bomb blasts. This spiritual support will continue for the days and weeks to come.