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'Drop-in' group boosts vibe at Helensburgh store

'Drop-in' group boosts vibe at Helensburgh store

'Drop-in' group boosts vibe at Helensburgh store

12 July 2022

Chez Wilson (top left) co-facilitates the 2508 Salvos ‘Boost your Friday’ group at the local Salvos Store in Helensburgh.

A retail store is not usually the place to go to catch up with a friend, have a coffee or share intimate details of your life with a group of strangers, but at Helensburgh Salvos Store every Friday, people gather for just that.

‘Boost your Friday’ is a drop-in group based on a similar initiative run by the Wollongong Salvation Army First Floor Program. That program is called ‘Boosted’, held over six sessions designed to help boost psychological well-being.

“When I participated in the ‘Boosted’ program online during lockdown with members of our 2508 Salvos organic church [at Helensburgh, NSW], I was really impressed by the content and the way it engaged participants in authentic and life-changing conversations,” says 2508 Salvos Mission Leader Lauren Martin. “So, I approached the First Floor Program and asked if I could adapt it to a drop-in setting.”

2508 Salvos [named after Helenburgh’s postcode] is a small mission expression or ‘outpost’ of Shire Salvos in the Sutherland Shire of Sydney. Without a building, many missional activities occur at the local Salvos Store. Lauren is based at the store on Fridays, running the SAL Connect site from 9-11am and then the drop-in ‘Boost your Friday’ group from 11am.

Her co-facilitator, the First Floor Program’s Chez Wilson, says every week, the possibilities of who will join the group are endless: “I love that each person who has come has been honest, open, and vulnerable in the group and has come with such a good attitude that has allowed us all to learn from each other and build connections with each other.

“This group is about so much more than positive-psychology ideas, it’s about growth, community, fun, encouraging each other and cheering each other on in healthy goals and new habits. It’s about understanding each other and meeting each other where we are at, and a safe place to be yourself and perhaps make new friends in the community.”

One regular attendee, Carmen, says the group has enabled her to grow in a positive way: “I have gained a new respect for being kind to myself and that you can find gratitude in even the smallest of things that occur throughout the day. Affirming this in the relaxed environment created by Lauren and Chez with like-minded others has been personally challenging but a really great experience!”

Topics covered at ‘Boost your Friday’ include gratitude, kindness, mindfulness, expressive writing and reminiscing. During one session on gratitude, participants roamed the store, chose a glass gratitude jar, and filled it with slips of paper on which they had written things they had in their life that they are thankful for. 2508 Salvos then purchased the jars for participants as a gift so that they could continue their gratitude journey at home.

One regular participant, Ruth, says she has seen benefits in her well-being since she started attending. “Since I’ve been coming here, my mind has gotten clearer, and I’m getting stronger in my mind, more positive.”

Another woman, Vickie, shared that the group has brought her closer to Jesus, “and it makes me think and process different ideas and how I’m bettering myself.”

‘Boost your Friday’ is often the first contact that people have with the local Salvation Army and expands people’s thoughts about The Salvation Army’s work.

“Many people think that The Salvation Army just helps homeless people or gives people food,” says Lauren. “But I’ve been able to explain to people our four pillars: Building Health Communities, Creating Faith Pathways, Caring for People and Working for Justice.

“Boost your Fridays often ticks all of those boxes.”



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