Volunteers from Bournemouth are flying over to Jamaica next month to help out at a school for blind children in Kingston.

They will be visiting The School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Children which The Salvation Army opened in 1927. The school is the only one of its kind in Jamaica and it currently has 100 students who are aged 3 to 20-years-old and 70 boarders. Flying out on Friday 5 April and returning on Sunday 21 April, the 10 volunteers have all paid their own airfares to get over to Jamaica. The team includes a teacher for children who have special educational needs and a painter and decorator.

Students from the school for blind and visually impaired children.

They are all members of The Salvation Army churches in Winton and Boscombe and one volunteer is also coming along from The Salvation Army in Taunton.

Tina Shave who is one of the trip’s organisers said:

“We are very excited to be heading out to Jamaica to help with the work of the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Children. While we are out there, we are aiming to build lasting links with the school so that we can continue to support it for years to come and help it to flourish”

“We will be spending two weeks in Kingston where we will be helping out with any jobs we can around the school and providing support because we are all quite practical and good with our hands. We are also aiming to raise funds to employ a member of the local community to work at the school which will be a boost to the local economy and build links for the school in Kingston.”

Winton Salvation Army has a history of supporting communities abroad and members of its congregation have visited countries including Ukraine in the past to help with community projects. The church also has a direct link with The School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Children because Captain Nicola Muir – the director of boarding at the school, was a member of the Winton Salvation Army for many years.

There are a few family connections among the volunteers, as Tina continues:

“Kirsten who is coming along is the daughter of Captain Nicola Muir and has and has visited her mum previously. My daughter Bethany Shave – who is joining the team, spent four months at the school in 2017 working alongside Nicola and the children there and, as with Kirsten, she has a great understanding of the need of the pupils and the community of Kingston.”

Winton Salvation Army is fundraising to buy supplies for The School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and is aiming to raise £5,000. Anyone wanting to make a donation can contact the church on 01202 517 989 or email winton@salvationarmy.org.uk Well-wishers can also donate items the school has requested.

The Salvation Army in Winton is based at 1 Latimer Road, Bournemouth. From there, it provides a range of services to the local community including foot care and chiropody sessions; a friendship club; ladies’ hairdressing and a stroke support group. There are weekly youth and children’s groups run at Winton Salvation Army as well as Bible study and Sunday services.

There’s a restaurant on the site and The Winton Salvation Army also operates two charity shops – one is on Latimer Road and the other is at 464 Wimborne Road. Learn more about The Salvation Army in Winton.