The Mayor of Camden, north London, Councillor Jonathan Simpson, hosted a small reception last night, in the elegant Mayor's Parlour at Camden Town Hall, to say thank you to volunteers from Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church, Kentish Town, for their services to the community.
Cllr Simpson praised the "exceptional" work of the parish. Volunteer co-ordinator Mona Cara described some of the SANKTUS projects. Working with other churches the parish provides a cold weather shelter throughout the winter months for 14 guests, as well as meals for more than 60 homeless people each day, hot showers, clothing, housing and employment advice and support. There is also a keep fit group and a lunch club for the over-50s.
While all the projects are run by volunteers, some grant funding from the Irish government and other sources, as well as donations, have covered the cost of food, materials and equipment.
Speaking on behalf of the parish, Mona said that in the present financial climate the projects might be facing some funding cuts but she was hopeful Camden Council would help them find innovative ways of continuing, and developing their services. Ideas for the future, in which the council could help, she said, might include offering financial advice surgeries, health promotion campaigns, and information about credit unions.
Our Lady Help of Christians began running the 'Sunday Club', offering a hot lunch, with television and newspapers, showers and clothes in the early 1990s.