Plan to revive Strawberry Field is real

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Mock-up plans of new Strawberry Field centre. Pic © Salvation Army

Plans are underway to revive a South Liverpool landmark made world-famous by The Beatles.

The Salvation Army has set up a public fundraising campaign to reopen Strawberry Field – a former children’s home that inspired John Lennon as a young boy – as a hub to aid young people who suffer from learning difficulties.

The charity has been using the site in Woolton as a church and prayer centre ever since its closure in January 2005.

In his 1967 song named after the home, Lennon recalled the days he spent at fetes and parties held by the Salvation Army in the Beaconsfield Road facility that was just around the corner from where he lived on Menlove Avenue.

Now £2 million is needed to complete the project to re-open the site. Mary Vingoe, a representative of the Salvation Army, told JMU Journalism: “Our aim is to raise as much awareness for this social injustice while encouraging the public to become a part of our campaign by donating what they can.

“If every Beatles fan donated just £1 to our campaign this will help make it forever Strawberry Field.”

Statistics from the Salvation Army website state that of one million people in the UK with learning difficulties, 93% are unemployed. Mary said: “We plan to run a pilot of our Steps to Work programme in Liverpool in the next year. In total, over the first five years of operation, we hope to work with a maximum of 350 young people.”

YouTube: Salvation Army

Funds raised will create a training and work placement hub for young people with learning disabilities; a new visitor experience about the song and John Lennon’s early life around Strawberry Field; and the development of a haven of spiritual exploration.

To mark the launch of the new campaign, 50 years since the original release of the classic Beatles tune, a choir formed of young children with learning difficulties gathered at Abbey Road studios to create a special version of the iconic hit.

Ms Vingoe added: “The key to our vision is working with local organisations to secure work placements and meaningful employment. We are building on this and would encourage any businesses interested in supporting our vision to get in touch.”

Planning permission for the site has recently been approved, which would see the addition of a training and work placement hub for the young people in need of help.

Major Drew McCombe, Divisional Leader for The Salvation Army North West, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have received full planning permission at our Strawberry Field site for our vision.”


About Ross Hilton-Inkpin, JMU Journalism