Feb 16th, 2022
Source: Independent Catholic News
The Prince of Wales’ recent visit to the ‘Metamorphosis’ Icon Exhibition at Farm Street Church was a particularly memorable occasion for those involved with the community homeless service based there. After seeing the exhibition and meeting artist Dr Irina Bradley, with her family, priests and parishioners, he particularly requested to meet them.
Formed at the beginning of the first Covid lockdown in March 2020, Central London Catholic Churches (CLCC) is a group of volunteers from several London churches responding to a need to serve and provide for the homeless. They began operating as a hub in Trafalgar Square, but are now based in Arrupe Hall next to the church – providing a cooked lunch for the homeless on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Yasko Kurahachi, president of Farm Street’s St Vincent de Paul Society, (who has earned Mayfair Times award for her work with the homeless) was one of the people who met the Prince. She told ICN: “He was charming. Very approachable. I told him about our soup run on Monday night. He wanted to know where we start and finish – many details. He was really concerned about what we do.”
Volunteer Ade said: “He was really interested in our work. I told him we provide a warm safe environment for people . Prince Charles wanted to know how many guests we have. There are up to 50 each time. I explained that we’re here Wednesdays and Saturdays. At 11.30 we serve tea and coffee. Between 12-2 there’s a hot meal. We also have a Christmas dinner.”
The meals served in Arrupe are provided by neighbouring Mayfair restaurants – and guests say, are of very good quality.
Nick who is a guest and helps organise the project said: “We had a general chat to begin with. I told him I was ex Navy reserve and that we had actually met before at the Centenary parade of the Royal Navy Reserve. He was taking the salute and we met afterwards. Prince Charles said he wanted to thank us all for our service to the country.
Nick said: “He’s very friendly, interested and easy to talk with. He really cares about the welfare of people who have served in the armed forces. I told him about another of our guests here who is actually a former Army medic. When you leave the armed forces it can very difficult. There are so many barriers to getting help. So much bureaucracy. If you lose your home it can be very difficult to get back on course.”
Next month, a panel discussion entitled: Homelessness and the Pandemic: What have we learnt? – hosted by Diocese Of Westminster Justice & Peace and Caritas, will take place at Farm Street Church. Speakers will be CLCC guests, Mick Clarke, CEO at The Passage; Jon Kuhrt, from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government; Parish priest Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, from CLCC and Liz Wills from Caritas Westminster.
Light refreshments will be served. There is need to book. Donations to homeless services welcome.
The event takes place on Monday, 28 March, from 6.45-8.15pm, at Farm Street Church, 114 Mount St, London W1K 3AH.
It will also be livestreamed at: www.farmstreet.org.uk