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Ealing Soup Kitchen
Ealing Soup Kitchen has been serving the homeless for over 30 years and Haven Green have been an active part of this ministry for probably the last 15 years.
The kitchen at St. Johns Church in West Ealing is open between 3.30 and 5.30pm every Saturday and Sunday throughout the year and is staffed by 7 supporting churches. Each Church is responsible for the whole weekend, including making soup and serving Tea and Coffee.
Many of those who visit are not strictly “homeless” in that they often live in a hostel and have a roof over their head, but most do not have a “home”, a place of welcome where they are known.
In the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the poor man is known by name and this is so important in serving in this ministry where, not surprisingly, it’s more about relationships than actual food.
Some of you may remember the American comedy “Cheers” about a bar in Boston where it says in the title song “it was the bar where they know your name” and this is true here, too.
Three years ago, in response to the churches wanting to provide more practical help, a “Worker for the Homeless” was appointed to help in the Soup Kitchen to support the teams.
Daphne Edwards who, with her husband, ran a Soup Kitchen in Uxbridge for over 10 years is our “Homeless Worker” and has given both much-needed support for things as simple as filling out housing forms for those who cannot read or write as well as giving continuity each week, which is difficult for the individual teams to do, as they are only there every seventh week.
We have supported Daphne in doing special events on top of the normal weekend kitchen with a Christmas Party, Karaoke evening at Easter, summer trip to the coast and a BBQ in the autumn. These events have built our relationship with the people who come along and there is sense of “belonging”.
St John's church evening service has recently changed the format to a more casual church with tables in the foyer with coffee and doughnuts and call it “Café Church” and we invited many from Soup Kitchen to come along.
This was quite strange at first, but after a year or so we have about 20-30 coming along and we often call it “Soup Kitchen Church”. There is a great sense of ownership and this has provided a wonderful opportunity to share the Gospel in Word on top of serving them in deeds.
Some members of Haven Green spend most Sunday afternoons in the Soup Kitchen, catching up with the people we have come to know quite well, before going to Café Church with them and now Sunday is no longer a day of rest for me and instead a day of service.
A Café Church weekend away at Wycliffe Centre in High Wycombe was challenging, given that many of our Soup Kitchen clients have drug and alcohol dependencies. The speaker at the weekend was a chap called John Robinson who was brought up in a Barnardos home and has been homeless with drug and alcohol problems in the past.
It is wonderful to see what Jesus is doing in this ministry.