Care in Community
12th December 2023
A local community centre in London’s Westminster, and one of Ambassadeurs Group’s key charity alliances, The Abbey Centre provides much needed support for people across London.
A local community centre in London’s Westminster, and one of Ambassadeurs Group’s key charity alliances, The Abbey Centre provides much needed support for people across London. With a programme of activities for the elderly, shared meals for people experiencing homelessness and hardship, a community pantry supporting people struggling to provide food for their families, and other health, wellbeing and professional working programmes, they have something to suit everyone. Even on a first visit, you will be quick to see this community centre is so much more than it’s schedule of activities, to so many regular visitors. The space is warm, friendly, and the staff and volunteers have built an environment that allows for otherwise isolated community members to build genuine connections, access vital services, eat good food and experience joy.
A donation of almost £125,000 from AG in early 2023 has helped The Abbey Centre to serve over 1,200 hot meals to people who are homeless or have been displaced, provide 2,450 weekly shops for families struggling with soaring costs, and plan over 40 events for elderly people in the area to connect and enjoy. The impact after six months of our alliance extends to more than just these numbers, with The Abbey Centre sharing just a few of the stories of how they have been able to support the community.
Caz Gandy-Grown who manages the pantry says people feel really safe and supported in the pantry and that it’s given them the chance to try new things they could never previously afford.
“This is the one of the most important projects that we run right now as it’s what people really need. People come in for the food and through the power of conversation many have disclosed something about their lives, allowing us to introduce them to our information and advice services or support them with other challenges. That’s the beauty of The Abbey Centre.”
Khalil, who has been unable to work due to health issues and who was also the victim of a financial scam has really appreciated the Community Pantry since it opened.
He said: “I thought my biggest problem would be the gas and electric bills. But it is food. I can’t afford things like chicken in the supermarket. The pantry helps me to eat good food at an affordable price and save money for my gas and electric.”
From Recipient to Volunteer: Upon attending the homeless meals sessions on Wednesdays, Julia realised that the hot meal provided there would often be her only meal of the day. The compassion and support she received from the Abbey Centre volunteers inspired her to give back to the community that had shown her such kindness. Motivated by her desire to help others, she expressed her interest in volunteering for the project.
Julia’s commitment to the homeless meals project was unwavering. Not only did she continue attending the sessions as a recipient, but she also devoted her time to volunteer at the refugee meals sessions. Her determination to make a positive impact on the lives of others was evident through her hard work, dedication and her eagerness to be a part of the community. Impressed by her commitment, Julia has now been offered employment and London Living Wage at The Abbey Centre.
Julia’s transformation from a homeless lady seeking meals to a valued team member is a testament to her resilience and determination. Through her journey at The Abbey Centre, she has not only found stability but has also discovered a sense of purpose and community.
Julia’s journey at The Abbey Centre exemplifies the power of community support and the potential for transformation in the lives of those facing homelessness. Her willingness to embrace new opportunities, coupled with her compassionate nature, has allowed her to not only receive help but also become an integral part of the solution.
A long time member of The Abbey Centre, Richard’s dementia meant that he needed to move into a care home where could safely spend his later years. His family shared a letter of thanks with The Abbey Centre:
“You at The Abbey Centre were instrumental in extending Richard’s enjoyment of life and his independence. The visits to the centre became a bi-weekly highlight of his otherwise lonesome routine. For us, his experiences there were the talking point of the day. The human interaction at the centre provided a much-needed safe social environment where Richard could be at ease and free to be the Richard of old, clowning around and feeling useful again. By serving him lunch on every visit, the centre helped us complement his diet. [We] will be forever indebted with all the staff and volunteers at the centre for the caring welcome and support you always showed Richard, especially when he was feeling low. It was very comforting knowing we could always rely on the unwavering care and dedication of all those who make The Abbey Centre a hub of social activity for those who may have little or no meaningful human contact. We hope you can continue your great work, which brings so much happiness to so many, for many years to come.”
Mary has been a familiar face at The Abbey Centre for a decade. Despite her vibrant spirit, she grapples with the trials of aging alone, isolation, the physical and financial demands of maintaining a warm, nourishing home, and the complexities of learning difficulties. Her recent breast cancer diagnosis adds to her already substantial burden.
Mary’s involvement in The Abbey Centre’s programs—like the Monday Club and Community Pantry—gave staff insight into her wellbeing. Regular phone calls from a dedicated befriender not only offered companionship but also crucial support in accompanying her to medical appointments to help navigate the maze of healthcare terminology and the daunting experience of facing such visits solo. Mary’s weeks are punctuated with camaraderie at the Monday Club and Talking Tables, ensuring she feels heard and connected. Today, no longer just a participant, she’s an embodiment of the community’s nurturing ethos, supported continually through personal check-ins and a myriad of programs designed to uplift her spirit and meet her evolving needs as part of the community.