Serve the city

“There’s a line in every city that separates the rich from the poor, the strong from the weak, the haves from the ‘have-nots’. It’s a street, the train tracks, the river, a side walk. On one side there is safety, on the other there is danger. On one side there is security, on the other, fear. On one side, kids go to college, work pays well, needs are hidden behind curtains and consumable goods. On the other life is pretty raw. Serve the City is for everyone. It’s a revolution, a serving revolution. And it’s going to change the world. We know them by their needs. What if we knew them by name?” (The ‘Serve the City’ manifesto)

It’s amazing what can come from a few people getting together over coffee and asking, “What are the biggest needs in our community and what can we do to address them?” A gathering of like-minded people, called ‘Serve the City’ was organised on meetup.com.

Jon-Jon Hilton, our Day Centre Manager, was invited to an initial brainstorming session in February. His idea was for a feast for homeless people in our community. He noticed that these people often lack the kinds of friends and support that so many of us take for granted. The plan was to serve a high-quality, well-presented dinner and to provide some form of entertainment. The idea would also be for the volunteers to get to know each other in the process of serving.

So, making use of the light, airy Terrace Room at the Jesus Centre and Jon-Jon’s chef friend, the Community Feast was born. Volunteers arrived three hours early, helped to prepare a delicious meal and then stayed to befriend around 30 visitors who attended. One even treated everyone to some excellent acapella singing. The volunteers benefitted greatly from the event.

“Thank you all for this precious opportunity to put smiles on people’s faces,” said one volunteer. “I am very grateful to have met you!”

“I was literally fighting back tears at one point… We’ve got to do this again!”

Another was deeply moved: “I was literally fighting back tears at one point… We’ve got to do this again!”.

Visitors loved it too: “It was wonderful, I am humbled to have been invited. The food was outstanding.”

Another said: “This was better than the day centre because there was a chance to talk to people and think about life differently.”

“The food was plentiful and there was a sense of order. I think this is how a Christian place should be. The venue was first class and dignified.”

One visitor summed it all up by saying: “Wonderful! When’s the next one?” The Community Feast now runs once a month on a Saturday.

Published 18th April 2018 with tags: homelessness London volunteering

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