The Salvation Army for a new generation

A Year With Essential

There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ year with Essential in that we want that your Essential experience will serve you uniquely.  But we can give you a flavour and a hint of what happens in the year as it stands at the moment.


The first three of our residential training weeks kick off with a boot camp.  All in there are six residential training weeks spread across the year.  During these weeks you will make contact with the central ALOVE UK team and be taught by some incredibly gifted instructors from a wide variety of ALOVE, Salvation Army and other contexts. 


By October you will have started off with your placement - which is located somewhere in the United Kingdom & Republic of Ireland Territory.  If you would like to find out more about our current placements please follow the link to 'Our Placements' above.


In the fourth week of November our Essential Students are gathered together for residential training.  Each year the venue we choose and specific training delivered on each week evolves a little.  


Christmas is just around the corner and our students will be helping their placements to deliver Christmas worship, mission and outreach programmes.  During the year we encourage our students to regularly record their year by way of journalling.  The festive season marks an important mile stone in the year - often a testing time as the challenges of the year have now become real.


Back from the Christmas break Essential Gap Year students can look up and look forward to a busy and fulfilling next 6 months.  January is time to reengage with home placements and community.  Students also have opportunity to get involved with the Prayer warriors of The Salvation Army at a prayer retreat weekend.


Time to return to placement and space for a short break too.  Essentials continue to engage with Salvation Army mission and benefit from the continued investment of their discipler and mentors. 


The ALOVE Youth Worker Gathering is an important fixture for the month of March.  It is a national gathering point for employed and volunteer youth workers and is one of the main gatherings of the ALOVE year.  March also sees our Essential Gap Year students take part in the 5th training week of their year.  Previously this has seen our delegates visit a variety of missional contexts in Western Europe – we intend to continue to develop and build upon this cultural experience.


Easter at any placement is a sensitive and valuable time for Essentials to get involved in expressing worship during a precious and remarkable festival.  The context of each placement will see that our students articulate and develop a unique celebration through dynamic and various expressions.  We will also be looking to get our young people involved with a large Christian gathering at this time.


Our Essential students are encouraged and nurtured toward reading and reviewing several books throughout their year.  A selection of the current course books gifted to our students include ‘apprentice’ (Chalke), ‘Velvet Elvis’ (Bell) & ‘insane’ (Collinson & Munn).  We also continue to encourage the completion of online journaling via their Essential blog pages - a unique insight into the life of each student throughout their entire Essential year.


As the Essential Gap Year draws to a close we would draw their attention to any set pieces of study that are outstanding so that we can ensure they are awarded the appropriate qualification at the end of their year.  Essential is a year to have fun and find out more about yourself and the world… alongside doing a bit of study and working hard.


July sees us celebrate with Essentials old and new.  We have a chance to meet together again for our 6th and final training week – culminating in our Graduation Ceremony hosted as a celebration of all that is good from the past 10 and a half months.  It is a time for laughter and tears – to look back with a smile and look forward with hope for a future shaped by the experiences of the Essential year. 

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If you have further questions about the Essential year don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Essential team.  Get in touch on