Bringing hope to London’s homeless
SPRING 2015 “But now I will come, says the Lord, because the needy are oppressed and the persecuted groan in pain. I will give them the security they long for.” Psalm 12
Jean-Louis Kassis with a guest
David Clover, team leader at Webber Street, talks about building a rapport with guests
period of time. I think, however, that hortly after I started working at probably the best way of building up Webber Street nine years ago I visited a number of homeless projects a rapport with a guest is just simply by listening to them; there is a lot you in the London area. They were all can discover about a person if you doing good work and there were take the time to listen. things that we could learn from each of them. However, I felt that the main Some of the things that people tell us difference with us was the time that are not particularly pleasant or easy we spent getting to know to listen to. I have built up a there is a lot the men and women who rapport with one particular came into the Centre. There you can discover about a person if guest over the years and are obviously those who you take the time he has told me all sorts of use our services who just things about his life and to listen want to be left alone and the crazy things he has won’t allow anybody into their lives; done and vented some pretty angry that is a decision that we respect and emotions in relation to his family. I try we give them the space they need. to see through that and the obvious There are a number of ways in which prejudice that he has and seek not to staff get to know guests – playing be affected by his use of expletives chess, helping them in a practical and the interesting combinations of way, taking them out for a coffee them that he comes up with. I have or just chatting about what’s in the grown to like this guest over the years Metro that morning. Sometimes it’s that I have known him and have a just a question of being there and soft spot for him, despite the fact getting to know familiar faces over a that alcohol abuse makes him a Jekyll
and Hyde character. I know that he appreciates Webber Street and that it is a place he can come in to for some practical help and a chat. I haven’t had any deep or prolonged spiritual conversations with him but he has asked why is it that we do what we do. In response I said something along the lines of it not being because we are good people but because we serve a good God who has shown his grace and mercy to us and we wish to extend it to others. During my time at Webber Street I have met some very interesting and well educated people, and some of the best conversations I have had with people have been here. We have talked about sorts of things – politics, world affairs, economics, religion, the Bible and a whole host of other topics. I think it’s important to do so in order to be able to connect with people and show that the God we serve is the Lord of all life.
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
“I feel my love for the guests is shown through the way I cook”
An w e i v r e t in e h t h t i w cook Raquel Gallego-Fons: that’s not an English name. What is your nationality and where did you grow up? I am Spanish and grew up in the small town of Tavernes de la Valldigna, in Valencia, north eastern Spain. How did you come to England and to work with London City Mission at Webber Street? Since becoming a Christian aged 16 I had the constant desire in my heart to be a missionary. I had been working in the very small church in my home town but at 26 left to serve the Lord full time. I worked four years at a Christian conference centre near Alicante, firstly as a volunteer and then as a dining room supervisor. I then came to England to work in a Christian Conference centre in Shropshire. When I arrived here, not only did I not speak English, I also didn’t know if I could cope with the cold! But God has led me each step of the way. During my time in Shropshire I helped at a Christian conference. I was sensing that it was time to move on and visited every single exhibition stand. The very last one was the London City Mission stand and I was told by the missionary there, “You could apply to be a missionary, but do you know we are actually looking
to employ a cook at our Centre for homeless people?” I joined the Mission as cook in September 2000.
the day for showing a film, and the sandwiches afterwards are generously provided by the coffee chain Pret a Manger. I also bake a cake for dessert, hoping to use my gift of cooking to make things special for the guests.
How does your role as cook link into the ministry at Webber Street? When the team was smaller there was more need for me to work ‘on Can you give us an insight into a the floor’ talking with the guests, typical day for you? some of whom I still see from time to My day starts when the alarm goes time. With the current larger team off at 5.30am. I am the first to arrive that’s not so necessary now, and at the Centre and begin preparing also I have less time to spend out of the breakfast – putting the beans on, the kitchen nowadays. For example, making the toast (ten loaves each day), new legislation has been introduced with the bacon, croquet potatoes and regarding allergens and sausages needing to be in the “I ... use my gift so I need to identify any oven by 7.30am. The food is of cooking allergens in the food ready by 8.15am and two staff to make things members come to help dish we’re serving and let the special for the it up ready to send down to guests know. We also keep a folder listing all the guests” the servery downstairs. I really food we cook. All the staff need to be appreciate my colleague Lena Page’s trained about these things. help and hard work behind the scenes in the kitchen – she makes a note of I feel my love for the guests is shown the food temperatures, completes through the way I cook. I think the necessary paperwork, washes all the guests can feel the love and care I put dirty pans, and a whole lot more – she into preparing it. When lunches are really goes the extra mile. (We will take provided at the Centre, I love to bake a closer look at Lena’s role in the next a cake. On Wednesdays, after the Bible newsletter). study, the guests receive a cooked lunch. I also made pancakes this year After the guests have eaten I take a and they were thrilled that they could break with Lena. The rest of the day join in with Pancake Day. Tuesdays is will depend on what is happening
that day, but generally Monday will be staff and thought, Wow! What a team spent baking for the rest of the week; we have! They are mainly young Tuesday I prepare whatever lunch is people but what impressed me was needed for the film day (soup/cake the genuine love and the care they to go with the Pret sandwiches); have for the guests. Wednesday means a cooked lunch The Lord is really blessing us as a for the Bible study; Thursday I really need to keep up with paperwork (and team. While the younger ones may not have so much experience it also means I’m not on “when they of life, their heart to serve my feet all the time). There come to Webber shows through. That unity is no breakfast served on Street they feel of heart brings the team Fridays as the staff give together. I sometimes have valued and guests help with paper to give them instructions cared for” work and referrals and try or reminders as to how to guide them according to their something needs to be done in the various needs on what is known as kitchen, but they do it willingly! ‘Further Fridays.’ I leave Webber Street at 2.30pm and pick up my little boy You also have a close tie with a certain Joshua (now 7) from school. While London City Missionary – tell us about I have a real passion for what I do, I that! do miss spending time with Joshua One of my tasks at London City Mission in the mornings – but he enjoys was to teach the team of young City spending that time with his dad, and Vision gap year volunteers basic it’s a precious time for them both. cookery skills. When they came to live What’s it like working with the Webber in London for their year of evangelism training alongside a City Missionary, Street team? some of them didn’t know how to Just recently we were having a team cook. One of the team was Patrick meeting and I looked around at the
Kangi. Patrick is a cook by profession, so it was a bit awkward showing him how to cook! God brought us together in the kitchen! Following his year on City Vision, Patrick was accepted as a missionary and we decided to get married. What differences do you see in the lives of some of the guests who come to the Centre? Over the years I have seen homeless men and women in the same situations and circumstances who may not want to change or know how to change, but at least when they come to Webber Street they feel valued and cared for by the staff and are listened to, which is important when you don’t have much hope for your life.
Raquel with staff Luke Carson and Gosia Kolosowkska
How can we pray for you and the specific work you’re doing at Webber Street? Please pray that the Lord will continue to give me physical strength for the early mornings Pray that he will equip me to be the best mum for Joshua Ask him to give me the fire in my heart to serve, since the work is routine and unchanging Pray that as a team we’ll be able to show the love of Jesus to the guests. We don’t see much fruit; pray that God will be ever working in their lives.
A partnership with Pret A
s you have sat down to enjoy a coffee in a Pret a Manger coffee shop, did you know that they do far more than just provide food and coffee? Their Pret Foundation Trust has a vision to provide long-term employment opportunities for exoffenders and people experiencing homelessness.
Pret delivers unsold food to Webber Street four days a week, which the staff are then able to give guests to eat later in the day. We are also grateful for funds that we have received towards staff costs, as well as the opportunity to refer two homeless men to Pret’s apprenticeship scheme.
The Pret delivery of food to Webber Street
tenants back into a regular lifestyle, with an income to support themselves.
Each apprentice gets to work in all The Mission’s partnership with Pret areas of a Pret shop, and if they go on began in 2012 and we are to work full time with Pret Nick Labiche, team leader at HCH, “we’re pleased to they can then choose the immensely grateful for will continue attending partnership be able to help the continued funding particular role they wish to meetings as well as supporting the fight the cycle of take on. and support that we have people we refer to their programme homelessness with received for our work, both Although apprentices may by meeting with London Apprentice partners like LCM.” at Webber Street and Hope not have been working Manager Juanita Cracchiolo and other Community Homes (HCH), and the for a while and therefore may lack Pret staff to talk about their progress. partnership that has developed. confidence, it is expected that they Every graduated apprentice receives Head of the Pret Foundation Trust, will carry out their job description to a permanent job offer, and some Nicki Fisher, has taken a keen interest the required professional standard of apprentices do go on to become team in our work. She says, “The work this popular coffee shop chain. Treated leaders. In fact, Pret’s aim is to bring an done by London City Mission to help as any other employee, apprentice to the stage of Pret delivers alleviate the stress of homelessness apprentices are also part of a eventually taking on the unsold food in London is hugely significant and support programme to deal role of manager of a coffee to Webber Street we’re proud to have been working in with any challenges or issues shop. four days a week partnership for over three years now. they are facing. Please pray that candidates Offering support to rough sleepers has One of the aims of Hope Community will successfully complete their been an important part of Pret since Homes is that it be a place where apprenticeship. Let’s pray too that, by we first opened our doors nearly 30 homeless people can be referred as God’s grace, he would enable more of years ago, and we’re pleased to be able a step to independent living. The the homeless people of London known to help fight the cycle of homelessness employment opportunity provided to our team at Webber Street and with partners like LCM.” by Pret Foundation is therefore a Hope Community Homes to acquire There are three main relationship wonderful way of re-integrating and remain in full-time employment. streams to the Pret Foundation Trust: Food donations to homeless charities Financial support to homeless charities Charities referring potential candidates into the apprenticeship scheme
Thank God for the many supporters who generously give towards our work at Webber Street and Hope Community Homes. ‘On earth as it is in heaven’: Pray that the guests would experience a little bit of heaven. Pray also for the staff team, for safety, wisdom, energy and passion! Webber Street is closed on a Sunday. Thank God that several guests now attend church. This is a great encouragement!
London City Mission has benefited from each of these.
Webber Street is a ministry of London City Mission Tel: 020 7407 7585 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | 175 Tower Bridge Road, LONDON SE1 2AH | www.lcm.org.uk | Reg Charity No 247186
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