Today is 4 weeks since we reopened the doors of Webber Street to guests since the countrywide lockdown due to Covid-19.
After four months of providing food and essential supplies outside of the building, we give God thanks for the opportunity to welcome guests back, to a slightly different service to normal, in a COVID secure way. The main difference to the service is that we run two simultaneous forms of breakfast to maintain social distancing. We welcome into the centre a maximum of 20 guests at one time, while breakfast is handed outside for those who don’t want to come in. As usual, there is a short gospel talk with breakfast inside the building
Please do pray for the team and for the guests as we continue to open. Pray for protection and health for staff, volunteers and guests. Pray that through the gospel talk and the way the guests are served with love and compassion, that the Holy Spirit will be at work and the Lord be glorified through this ministry.
Eight weeks into the UK shut down and Webber Street is still operating under the government guidelines and caring for vulnerable people to the best of our ability.
Although our physical building still remains closed, our hearts and our hands remain open and we are more committed to serving our guests during this time than ever before.
The great weather and sunshine have definitely helped our guests who are still out on the streets feel more positive and have helped make their situation be more bearable than if it was cold out or miserable.
We are still seeing some of our guests be verified as homeless by the local outreach teams and be referred for accommodation. Although this is a timely process, it is so satisfying to find out that they have been allocated a space and we rejoice and are so happy for each one of them when they are accommodated. Many times, their first comment after being informed they have accommodation is that they say that they can’t wait to have a shower which is not surprising as many of them have not had a shower for a number of weeks.
In the interim they are grateful for the toiletries The Globe Church is providing which we are able to distribute to them a few times each week.
A surprise and encouragement for the team at Webber Street and the Mission is a thank-you message we received in the Metro from one of our guests who has been accessing our services for the past two months.
We have been able to remain in contact with one of the young females who we were able to refer to the outreach team for accommodation. We speak to her on a regular basis over the phone and have been able to deliver toiletries and books to her. We were able to give her a copy of The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and other Christian literature which she really appreciated.
One of our Romanian guests who was waiting for a hotel allocation was getting very discouraged and despondent at how long the process was taking. It was such a delight to tell him one morning that he had been allocated a space. After he got his takeaway breakfast, one of the local outreach teams arranged transport for him to where he was allocated from the Day Centre. His surprise and beaming face as he got into the UBER is a picture that will remain etched in my memory forever. Language was a barrier but his exuberance and the expression on his face reflected how grateful he was.
Witnessing local Churches and individuals being mindful and generous toward our work amongst the homeless and the poor. We are so grateful to every person and Church who has given so freely of their time and resources, etc. so that we can continue providing a vital service to our guests during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Imagine wearing the same clothes all day and all night for days if not weeks on end. Well that is what rough sleepers have to do. So an important part of our mission at Webber Street is to offer showers and clean clothes. Our guests feel so much better after a shower and a set of clean clothes.
We rely on donations for our clothing store. What we desperately need are underpants, socks and t shirts. We give out some 75 sets of underwear each week. Other clothing in demand are jeans or casual trousers, anoraks, shoes and sweaters. Most of our guests are men, but we do have a few ladies and we need knickers and t shirts for them.
We are very grateful for all those who donate clothes, but we are quite specific in our requirements (as detailed above). Our guests do not change into their pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers before bedding down for the night in a park or alley way. Nor do they get dressed up in a suit and shirt to go to the office. We do not necessarily need new clothes – just clean ones.
Each Wednesday lunch time we hold an interactive Bible Study for Webber Street guests who are interested in the Bible. The number of attendees can vary week to week between two and ten. This week we had nine guests attending from different backgrounds, Two Romanian Orthodox, several from Roman Catholic backgrounds and some with no faith background but who are interested in what we believe. We are currently working through a series studying the Old Testament and discussing how it points us to Jesus.
Over the coming weeks we will be giving some updates as to how this is going on our facebook page: facebook.com/webberstreet
Over the coming weeks we are going to be using this space to talk a little about some of what we do at Webber Street and some of the challenges we face. Each of the posts will be written by our staff, the first is about Alcohol:
Alcohol addiction is one of the most common issues we deal with at Webber Street. It’s closely connected with our work as it can be either the cause or result of homelessness. All too often we see people get caught in the cycle of drinking and it prevents them working to improve their situation. Usually people have turned to alcohol as a means of attempting to deal with another issue in their life or to try and ease with living on the streets and unfortunately leads to further issues mainly with physical and mental health.
Thankfully there is help available for those who seek it. We work closely with organisations who run rehab programs allowing guests the chance to deal with the issues which led them to alcohol.
On Sunday 14th July Jean-Louis, one of our staff at Webber Street is going to be running the British 10K. His target is to raise £2,500 so that we can buy a whole years supply of underpants (5000 pairs) for the men and women who use our services. Here is a link to his just giving page: http://www.justgiving.com/Jean-Louis-Kassis
The Royal Parks foundation have just released images of the 2013 shirt. I’m sure you’ll agree this rather fetching red shirt will stand out perfectly amongst the autumnal golds, oranges and yellows of London’s Royal Parks.