A Christian Mission embedded within the military community
Sandes: The Soldier’s Friend
Providing friendship and support for the military community as a witness and practical expression of the Christian faith.
Founded in 1869 Sandes serves the military community working with soldiers in centres located on military bases across the UK. These neutral, non-military spaces provide a home from home for soldiers and their families who can face incredible pressures and stressful working lives.
Our Centres are designed to be sanctuaries where soldiers can find a welcoming space on camp, free from rank and the pressure of military duties.
Welfare and family support
Providing support for soldiers, new recruits who face incredible pressures as they serve their country. Sandes also looks after families of soldiers through play clubs, support sessions and toddler groups.
A permanent Christian presence in military bases distributing Scriptures, offering pastoral support, Bible study, prayer meetings, children’s Bible Clubs etc.
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?
Who we are
We’ve been supporting soldiers since 1869. Find out more about our founder, Elise Sandes and read how our ministry has developed over the years.
We are a charity and receive no public funding. There have been occasional grants from trusts for capital projects but we depend on supporters to provide the core funding essential in keeping the work going.
It is a challenging job requiring special commitment and we are grateful to our forty staff and volunteers who run the organisation and man our Centres around the UK.
Statement of faith
Sandes is a Christian mission. Read about our motivation and the values and principles that guide our work with the UK military.
Contact details: Sandes Soldiers’ & Airmen’s Centres, Unit 7, 30 Island Street, Belfast BT4 1DH Phone: 028905 00250 Email:email@example.com
I am writing as a recruit at ATC Pirbright, to express my gratitude for the excellent facility provided by the Sandes Centre here on camp. My fellow recruits and I have found it a wonderful haven of warmth and friendship in which to relax, purchase helpful items, and feel welcome, at a time when some of us have felt alone, or simply stressed out. The staff are universally polite, friendly and caring. They go out of their way to make us feel welcome and noticed, and by their presence reassure us that there is a friendly face, and someone to talk to should we need it.
Without Sandes I really don’t think I could of passed out. The superintendent listened in a quiet manner that calmed the most distressed of recruits. Sandes itself was a fantastic service. It was a place where recruits could go without feeling the pressure of ranks or eyes upon them. It was the single place on camp that I saw people completely relax.
On taking over as Senior Chaplain at Pirbright I saw firsthand the enormous worth that Sandes has within the military. I was extremely impressed by the dedication of the staff in providing such an excellent service for the recruits. Many told me that without Sandes, they would not have gone the distance and passed their 12 week phase one course.
Do you feel you could help us in our mission to serve the young men and women of HM forces? There are many things you could do to help us both outside and inside the wire. Get in touch for more details.
Statement of faith
SANDES SOLDIERS’ & AIRMEN’S CENTRES
To offer friendship in the warmth of a Christian Home
To lead service personnel and their families to trust in Christ for salvation
To build up believers to Christian maturity
Statement of faith
Each member of the Association and each prospective member of staff shall subscribe to his belief in and acceptance of the following rules of faith and doctrine:
(a) The unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in the Godhead; (b) the sovereignty of God in creation, revelation, redemption and final judgement; (c) the divine inspiration and infallibility of Holy Scripture, as originally given and its supreme authority in all matters of faith of conduct; (d) the universal sinfulness and guilt of human nature since the fall, rendering man subject to God’s wrath and condemnation; (e) redemption from the guilt, penalty and power of sin only through the sacrificial death (as our representative and substitute) of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God and the justification of the sinner by faith; (f) the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead; (g) the necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit to make the death of Christ effective to the individual sinner, granting him repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; (h) the indwelling and work of the Holy Spirit in the believer; (i) the one Holy Universal Church, which is the body of Christ and to which all true believers belong; (j) the expectation of the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sandes is a highly respected Christian charity working to support those who serve in Armed Services and their families. The charity was started in 1869 by a young woman, Elise Sandes. She was deeply concerned for the welfare of English soldiers in her home town of Tralee who were scorned by civilian society. Recognising the temptations and loneliness of these men serving away from home, she went against the prejudice of her time offering them friendship and inviting them to meetings in her mother’s home.
She inspired many others to catch her vision. Starting with a coffee room in Tralee the work quickly developed and Sandes Homes were opened throughout Ireland and England. Elise used the phrase a ‘Home from Home’ to summarise her radical vision. The social, emotional and spiritual needs of soldiers were paramount and this was appreciated by the military command who warmly invited Sandes into their establishments. The work followed the Army overseas to South Africa, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Iceland and France. Elise became known as the ‘Mother of the British Army’. Sandes was a sanctuary in the midst of the challenging military environment, where soldiers knew they would be welcome, regardless of rank, beliefs or background. Elise spent her life caring for soldiers and was given a full military funeral upon her death. The headstone on her grave reads ‘For 66 years The Friend of Soldiers’.
Sandes remains faithful to the same vision of providing friendship and support for the military community as a witness and practical expression of the Christian faith. With the changing face of the British Army and Royal Air Force all Sandes Centres are currently based in the UK, three in Northern Ireland (Lisburn, Ballykinler and Holywood) and two in England (Pirbright and Harrogate).
The Centres fulfil a distinctive role being seen as a neutral, non-military space within the army camps. They provide catering and recreational facilities along with quiet areas for people to unwind and relax in a homely atmosphere. Families and personnel of all ranks are welcome in Sandes. Staff offer friendship and a listening ear to soldiers, many of whom are facing incredible pressures. The support of wives and children is also a key focus of the charity.