News

News from the PASSAGE

 

Work during lockdown

We helped over 300 people off the street and into temporary accommodation at the beginning of lockdown and supported them throughout the lockdown period with daily food deliveries and personal support. We have moved 60 people into long term accommodation and are supporting those still in temporary accommodation until they move to their new homes.

Reopening the Resource Centre

We have reopened the Resource Centre and are operating a new model in line with government safety guidelines. We have three daily sessions, accommodating 35 people each and separated by thorough cleaning. People book in for advice, and we provide food, laundry, clothing and showers as part of their visit. We are supporting people who do not need to come in for advice by telephone and personal visits. These staggered daily numbers affect how we can use donated goods.

Harvest Festival & other donations in kind

In the past tinned and dried food donated at Harvest Festival have been very useful for us for making up food parcels to provide to those resettled but struggling for food. We are now supporting people who need help with food but do not need to visit us, by distributing supermarket vouchers instead.

Clothing

Due to the current operating restrictions, we need to be very focused about clothing donations too. In the past we have taken in a mixture of clothing sizes and types and have had ways of making good use of any surplus items. The COVID situation has made this much more difficult. We are still providing clothing as vouchers for resettled clients.

Donating to provide food or clothes

We are very grateful for financial help to assist us specifically in providing food and clothes. If a parishioner who is a taxpayer donates £4 under Gift Aid this can fund a £5 voucher and can be handled much more easily than if £4 of goods were purchased for us.

Please contact Andrew Hollingsworth (details below) in advance about Harvest Festivals or any initiative to support our clients with goods before encouraging a physical collection.

Night Under The Stars

We are excited to be marking the 20th anniversary of our annual Night Under The Stars concert. This year the concert will be virtual on 3 December. Hosted by comedian Rory Bremner, with music from the London Philharmonic Choir, Steven Hough and Hugh Montague Rendall, with more artists to be announced. The evening commemorates 40 years of The Passage’s work transforming homeless people’s lives. We will be in touch with more details shortly.

Presenting the work of The Passage in Parishes

We have for many years been pleased to visit parishes and present our work at the end of each weekend Mass. During the summer I had the pleasure of joining a parish for Mass streamed online via zoom. I was given the opportunity to speak at the end of Mass and take questions, which was extremely useful.

We do very much need your prayer and practical help at this time. I am very happy to appeal in person or online either to a parish or a particular parish group.

40th anniversary of The Passage

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Passage first opening its doors to homeless people in October 1980. Cardinal Vincent will offer Mass in Westminster Cathedral to mark our anniversary at 5.30 on Thursday 21 January. We hope to be able to invite people to attend in person but if that is not practical it will be streamed online.

Anniversary Appeal

The Passage is facing the biggest challenge in our 40 year history. Many clients now need support to remain off the street. The Covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis means that many more people are now at risk of unemployment or losing their home. Our services are vital for the rough sleeping community in London and those who find themselves homeless for the first time this winter.

 

Herts Welcomes Refugees North Herts

Dear Friends and Supporters

I hope you are all keeping well. I realise it is some time since I have been in touch with news of the refugee families settled locally. Time has been rather elastic over the last few months and I apologise for not communicating more frequently.

The Syrian families, by and large, seemed to adapt to the stringent requirements of the lockdown period with resilience and equanimity. Of course, most of them have family in many other parts of the world as well as the Middle East so there was some comfort in knowing that nearly everyone was facing similar restrictions. Our wonderful befriender volunteers continued to stay in touch with the families: for several months this was online or with phone calls but more recently they have been able to visit in gardens or meet up in the park. The families, too, are now beginning to meet up with each other outside and there was a small gathering on Norton Common recently to celebrate Eid together.

School work and college classes all went online in March and thanks to all the generous contributions to our crowdfunder appeal at Christmas time to raise money for laptops, we were able to provide them to most of the families in Hertfordshire who needed one for the children or adults to continue their studies.

A baby boy arrived safely to one family in early June and is thriving. Fortunately we were able to provide most of the equipment they needed from kind donations. There are two more babies on the way, due in late autumn so more causes for celebration in these difficult times. More good news when two people in Letchworth passed their driving test recently. This milestone greatly broadens opportunities for employment.

Those of you who are members of Herts Welcomes Refugees will know that our AGM postponed from March was held online in June which enabled us to comply with the Charity Commission’s requirements. We had planned an event that would involve hearing from several of our refugee partners about their experiences of settling here but this was not feasible online. At some point in the future, we hope to be able to hold a similar evening whenever that becomes possible. Mick Hayter, our much valued treasurer, has decided to step down and we have been fortunate in recruiting Mala Mulholland to take on the role. As well as a sound background in finance, Mala is the daughter of refugees who came here from Sri Lanka so has a good understanding of the issues.

 With best wishes and thanks for your continuing interest and support

Veronica Raymond

Herts Welcomes Refugees North Herts

Pope encourages seafarers amid Covid-19 difficulties

Update 22/6/2020

Today we wanted to share a very special message with you that Pope Francis recorded for seafarers and fishermen, and those that support them, amid Covid-19 difficulties. He thanked maritime personnel and fishermen for their important contribution to feeding humanity, and spoke about the difficulties they are enduring during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said:
“ Know that you are not alone and that you are not forgotten. Your work at sea often keeps you apart from others, but you are close to me in my thoughts and prayers, and in those of your chaplains and the volunteers of Stella Maris.”

You can watch the full message below.
Agencies » Apostleship of the Sea » » Pope encourages seafarers amid Covi…

Pope Francis thanks maritime personnel and fishermen for their important contribution to feeding humanity, and recalls the difficulties they endure during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a video message sent Wednesday to the Apostleship of the Sea, Pope Francis recognized the difficulties facing seafarers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He expressed gratitude for their help in feeding humanity despite the risks involved.

“Your work as maritime personnel and fishermen has thus become even more important,” he said, “since it is providing our greater human family with food and other primary needs.”

Stranded at sea

The coronavirus pandemic, said the Pope, has forced vast changes upon seafarers, leading them to make many sacrifices.

“Long periods spent aboard ships without being able to disembark, separation from families, friends and native countries, and fear of infection,” he said, are a heavy burden to bear.

Anywhere between 150,000 and 200,000 seafarers are currently stranded at sea, according to the UN’s labor agency.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) said recently that lockdown measures have prevented healthy maritime personnel from disembarking. Many completed their tours months ago but were forced to stay aboard.

Mental health issues and physical exhaustion, ILO said, are affecting many.

Not forgotten

In his message, Pope Francis addressed suffering seafarers directly.

“Know that you are not alone and that you are not forgotten,” he said. “Your work at sea often keeps you apart from others, but you are close to me in my thoughts and prayers, and in those of your chaplains and the volunteers of Stella Maris.”

The Pope reminded them that Jesus’s first disciples were fishermen, something they should take comfort in.

Protected by Our Lady

Pope Francis then offered each seafarer “a message and a prayer of hope, comfort, and consolation in the face of whatever hardships you have to endure.”

He also encouraged all those who provide them with pastoral care and spiritual support.

“May the Lord bless each of you, your work, and your families,” he said, “and may the Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea, protect you always.”

Stella Maris

The Apostleship of the Sea is a Catholic charity supporting seafarers. Its patron is Our Lady, Star of the Sea.

Stella Maris was founded in Glasgow, Scotland, in the early 20th century as a network of seafarer chaplaincies in ports throughout the world.

The Apostleship of the Sea’s 216 chaplains work in more than 311 ports in over 30 different countries.

Source: Vaticannews.va

Caritas Westminster joins community groups to feed families in Hitchin

Caritas Westminster has joined Feed Up Warm Up and Hitchin Food Provision Team to support families in need during the COVID-19 crisis. https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/39797

Liz Wills

Hitchin Food Provision Team is a collaboration of local groups. In addition to Caritas Westminster and Feed Up Warm Up, the partnership includes Hitchin Partnership, Rotary Club of Hitchin Tilehouse, Hitchin Youth Trust, Zeo Church, Hitchin Volunteer Army, Hitchin Round Table and Letchworth Foodbank. The mission of the group is to support families and children in Hitchin, who are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Caritas Westminster’s North Hertfordshire Development Worker, Elizabeth Wills, has been an integral part of the work achieved by Hitchin Food Provision Team. Elizabeth collects regular donations of fresh food from suppliers and supports the delivery of food parcels and meals to families on a weekly basis.

Hitchin Food Provision Team is helping those who have experienced job losses or reductions in income, as well as those who have had to self-isolate due to the virus. The pandemic has forced many families into financial insecurity and exacerbated the needs of those who were already struggling. With most children off school, families are also missing out on the government’s free school meals scheme, which ordinarily operates during term time. The Government’s national voucher scheme (£15 per week, per child), designed to replace free school meals during the crisis, has proven to be a flawed initiative, limited in its reach.

Hitchin Food Provision Team, which assembled just two months ago, is already supporting 90 families with regular food parcels, hot meal deliveries and supermarket vouchers. Many of these families have been identified by local schools. A third of these families are entitled to receive the government’s free school meals vouchers. The remaining families receive supermarket vouchers from the project, a total of £60 a week for a family of four.

The food parcels are made up of food that has been donated by a variety of generous contributors. These include a local bakery (which provides over 70 loaves of fresh bread each week), Edible London (an organisation tackling food waste and food poverty, which provides crates of fresh fruit and vegetables each week), as well as parishioners and members of the local community, who regularly donate non-perishable items. The food is stored in the parish hall at Our Lady Immaculate and St Andrew, Hitchin, before it is delivered to families in need.

Speaking about the support her family has received from Hitchin Food Provision Team, one mother said: “It means the world to us. You guys have made sure my children go to bed full and that I don’t have to lie to them one night a week, when they normally ask, “Where’s your food, Mummy?” and I go, “I’ll eat when you are in bed” and I never do … just to make sure they eat for the week. They love it on a Monday, when we can sit and eat together. It’s the best day when the food angels come, they tell me.”

Another mother also expressed thanks for the support given to her family: “Thank you again for the overwhelming kindness and food I have received today … you guys are amazing and [it] makes me cry, knowing how kind some people can be.”

As well as supermarket vouchers and food parcels, Hitchin Food Provision Team has been able to help deliver hot meals, thanks to the assistance of Feed Up Warm Up, a social outreach project supported by the parish community at Our Lady and St Andrew, Hitchin. Feed Up Warm Up is a charity which provides drop-in centres in Hitchin and Stevenage, for homeless guests to access food, clothing, and support. Since its inception, the charity has received advice and operational assistance from Caritas Westminster. In response to the current crisis, Feed Up Warm Up has extended the scope of its work to support families and other individuals in need. The charity is contributing to the collaborative efforts of Hitchin Food Provision Team by cooking and distributing hot meals, using the kitchen facilities at Our Lady and St Andrew’s Church. The hot meal delivery service has been vital in supporting the increasing number of people in need. When the hot meal delivery service began in the first week of May, Feed Up Warm Up provided hot meals for 12 people. By the end of May, this number had increased to 112 people.

Speaking about her work with Hitchin Food Provision Team, Elizabeth Wills, North Hertfordshire Development Worker at Caritas Westminster, said: “Working with the Hitchin Food Provision Team has been a wonderful opportunity to work with other community groups, from all faith backgrounds and none. It has showed us that irrespective of our different beliefs, we can all work together for the common good.”

“Many of the families we serve are in a position where they don’t have money to buy even the smallest treats for their children. Being able to support them at such a time has truly been a humbling experience.”

If you would like to support the work of Caritas Westminster, you can donate at : bit.ly/caritasdonations.

Churches open from 15th June – detail of churches in the area

Churches in the area are open at the following times

Letchworth Garden City

From Monday 15th June, St. Hugh of Lincoln open 5 – 6.30pm. As soon as we can we shall also open 10am – 1pm, keeping our evening slot.

Hitchin
Opening on 15th. As Our Lady Immaculate and St. Andrew is being painted over the next two weeks, it will be open each day 16.30-6pm after that from 10.30 to 12.00pm.
Hatfield
Opening 15th  Marychurch  10am to 12pm daily, and St Peter’s  10am till 5pm daily.
Knebworth
St Thomas More to be open every day from 11.00am to 1.00pm
 
Baldock
Opening 15th June Holy Trinity and St. Augustine of Canterbury  Monday- to Thursday and Saturday 11am-1pm  –  Sunday 11.30am -1.30pm
Stevenage
From 15th June St Hilda’s, Shephall  Saturday 6-7pm; Sunday 10am-12 noon; Mon/Tue/Fri: 10-11am
Transfiguration, Old Town: Saturday 5-6pm; Sunday 10am-12 noon; Monday & Friday: 10-11am
From Sunday 21st June St Joseph’s, Bedwell
Sunday 10am-1pm (whole church); Monday-Saturday (except Tuesday): 8am-8pm (porch)
Royston
St. Thomas of Canterbury and the English Martyrs  Open Tuesday and Thursday morning and Saturday evening.
Welwyn Garden City (Trial two-week period)
St. Bonaventure: Tuesday 16th June 9.30 – 10.30am and Tuesday 23rd June 9.30 – 10.30am.
Holy Family Thursday 18th June 9.30 – 10.30am and Thursday 25th June 9.30 – 10.30am.
Our Lady Queen of Apostles Friday 19th June 7 – 8pm and Friday 26th June 7 – 8pm

Bishops stand in solidarity with US sisters and brothers as they challenge the evil of racism and the brutal killing of George Floyd

“We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the USA as they challenge the evil of racism and the brutal killing of George Floyd. As the US Bishops made clear: “we cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities and yet still try to profess to respect every human life. We serve a God of love, mercy, and justice.”

“Systemic racism is embedded in our own society. The disproportionate harm suffered by BAME people throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted profound inequalities, marginalisation and injustice here in the UK. The peaceful Black Lives Matter protests taking place in our towns and cities this week reflect the understandable anger that so many people feel about this.

“As Catholics we recognise that racism is an evil which must be opposed; we all have a responsibility for actively promoting racial justice. Whenever we ignore racism or dismiss BAME people’s experience of it, we are complicit in violations of human dignity. We pray for God’s help to overcome racism in all its forms and that we might protect everyone who suffers its consequences. We are all made in God’s image.”

Bishop Declan Lang
Lead Bishop for International Affairs

Bishop Paul McAleenan
Lead Bishop for Racial Justice

EMERGENCY APPEAL TO SUPPORT CARE HOME STAFF AND RESIDENTS

The Little Sisters of the Poor have launched a vital fundraising appeal, in response to the increasing pressures faced by St Anne’s Care Home during the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

The Little Sisters of the Poor are a charity committed to providing safe accommodation and professional care for vulnerable older people, and in these unprecedented times, our staff and volunteers are going above and beyond to make sure that this high quality care continues.

However, due to the recent Government restrictions, St Anne’s Care Home in Stoke Newington has been forced to implement emergency measures to aid efforts to fight the Coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, along with residential visitations, this also includes cancelling charity events and collections which has had a massive impact on the donations we rely on to help with our increasing running costs.

We are appealing for your crucial support at this uncertain time, to help us safeguard our Home and meet the ever-evolving needs of our Sisters, staff and residents. Your crucial donations will enable us to purchase extra essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gloves, sanitising gel, eye protection, face masks, visors, safety clothing, and chemical cleaning products to ensure we can continue to comply with all health and safety regulations. Another very high expense we are faced with at this moment, is the continuous use of Agency Staff to ensure staffing levels remain adequate at all times.

Make a Donation

All donations, no matter what size, will be very gratefully received and will make a real difference to the lives of our vulnerable elderly residents. Cheques made payable to ‘Little Sisters of the Poor’ or PPE supplies can be sent to; St Anne’s Home, 77 Manor Road, Stoke Newington, London, N16 5BL. Alternatively, you can make a secure, online donation, by visiting our website at; www.littlesistersofthepoor.co.uk/donate-here/

Thank you so much.