From the Aberdeen Press and Journal today…

World Leader Will Mark Ceremony
Official opening for Salvation Army centre

By Declan Harte

Published: 13/09/2008

OUTSPOKEN: The world leader of the Salvation Army, General Shaw Clifton, is performing the opening ceremony of the Aberdeen Citadel today.

The world leader of the Salvation Army will today officially open Aberdeen’s newly refurbished centre.

General Shaw Clifton, who has served as a Salvation Army leader in some of the world’s poorest countries, will mark the reopening of the Castle Street premises, which has just undergone a £3.4million facelift.

Speaking yesterday, he addressed the plight currently facing Aberdeen’s homeless community, one of the main focuses of the city’s own Salvation Army branch.

He said: “Poverty is a great evil in the world and there is nothing romantic about it.

“Yet even when people have absolutely nothing, as I’ve seen in Pakistan, they often still show a culture of generosity which warms you to your very being.”

Addressing the topic of the proposed anti-begging bylaw currently being considered by Aberdeen City Council, which would see begging in city streets become a criminal offence, Mr Clifton doubted that such a law would actually be enforceable.

He added: “Why are there beggars in the streets of cities like Aberdeen, in one of the richest countries in the world?

“When the authorities find someone who is forced to beg for money, I want to hear them say ‘I want to help you’ rather than ‘I want to arrest you’.”

Aberdeen’s Salvation Army has had the Citadel base for 128 years, although its future has looked unstable recently.

Plans to sell the building to Peacock Art Gallery were announced in 2003, but soon withdrawn when the Salvation Army decided to stay put.

The makeover, partially funded through selling other Salvation Army-owned properties, took two years as period architectural design had to be preserved alongside the arrival of new facilities.

The worship hall has been converted into a 300-seater auditorium with broadcast quality lighting and sound. A cafe with wi-fi access has also been installed along with new conference rooms, offices and a computer suite.

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