Salvation Army Opens Car Wash in Norway

The Salvation Army opened a car wash in Tønsberg, Norway to provide training and employment for those integrating back into society after spending time in prison, rehabilitation or following other periods of social exclusion.

Matching The Salvation Army’s motto in Norway, “soup, soap and salvation,” the car wash is named Såpa, which translates to “the soap.”

True to the Army’s holistic approach, Såpa seeks to provide an opportunity for people to engage in meaningful work, regardless of their past situation or their current mental or physical health.

Henning Wick is in charge of the day-to-day running of Såpa. Prior to the job, he had been in and out of rehab and jail for 20 years. Wick controls the pressure washer and checks every car before it is driven off. Along with the responsibility of running of the place, Wick is also an important role model for other employees.

“The only thing I demand of the others is that they don’t show up to work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” he said. “If they happen to have a bad day, I send them home – but they are always welcome back. I, for one, understand the importance of a second chance.”

The Salvation Army in Norway is constantly looking for new ways of developing its work training programs, and job training is a big part of the Salvation Army remedy for tackling social exclusion and poverty in Norway. Fretex, a fully owned subsidiary of The Salvation Army, has become the biggest job training company in the country.

“I highly recommend Såpa,” said the Mayor of Tønsberg, Petter Berg. “I had the opportunity to test the facility and have my own car washed, and the result was wonderful. The Salvation Army is a respected organization in our community and I am impressed by how they manage to create meaningful lives for people through work and activities.”

In Tønsberg, The Salvation Army is synonymous with innovation. By combining the forces of the corps with the rehabilitation and recycling industry, the work has been revitalised and new opportunities for outreach made possible.

The Salvation Army presence in the city goes beyond the local corps and thrift shop, and now includes a café, concert venue, bike workshop, textile production and print house in addition to the new car wash.

Every month the corps moves its Sunday service into the concert venue, which has significantly increased participation from the local community compared with when the nearby church hall was used.

From a report by Geir Smith-Solevåg

Norway, Iceland and The Færoes Territory via The Salvation Army International

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