Volunteers Week: Central London Catholic Churches say Thank You to their Homeless Service Volunteers

CLCC Volunteers at Farm Street Arrupe Hall, June 2023

Source: Caritas Westminster

Central London Catholic Churches (CLCC) is a consortium of volunteers that came together in April 2020 to provide refreshments to homeless people during the pandemic. Originally operating out of a van in Trafalgar Square, it has now transformed itself into a very popular twice-weekly lunch service based at Farm Street church and catering to over 100 homeless guests a week. In addition to enjoying limitless tea and coffee and top-quality lunches sourced from local suppliers, guests can participate in job fairs to learn about employment opportunities, be referred to other services, join in scripture study groups and even get a haircut, all without leaving the Farm Street premises.

What has made all of this possible is the team of around 50 committed volunteers. They range in age from 20 to 85 and include students, doctors, lawyers, housewives, those in religious life and retired people. What is very striking is how well everyone gets on together and how much we share a sense of common purpose. The happy atmosphere created by the volunteers is one of the reasons that guests speak so highly of the service and keep returning to it.

It is hugely rewarding for us to work with what is one of the nicest teams of volunteers that we have ever encountered and we want to put on record how much we appreciate everything you do.

Thank you to our volunteers.

Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, Ade Owusu-Ansah and Linda McHugh


Catholic Priest Receives Guilty Verdict for Insulate Britain Protests

Fr Martin Newell, fourth left, and the 8 other defendants from Insulate Britain outside Hove Crown Court

Source: Independent Catholic News

Passionist priest Fr Martin Newell, 55, and Ben Buse, a Christian from Bristol, were among a group of nine environmental protesters found guilty on a charge of ‘Public Nuisance’ at a trial at Hove Crown Court last Friday. The nine were part of the Insulate Britain 2021 campaign of nonviolent civil resistance undertaken to demand the UK government insulate Britain’s cold and leaky homes.

The defendants were found guilty by a jury, on a majority verdict of 10-2. on a charge of ‘Public Nuisance’. In September 2021 they blocked a road at Dover Port bringing traffic to a standstill for over two hours.

This was the fifteenth Insulate Britain jury trial, a number of which have resulted in ‘not guilty’ verdicts by juries.

Sentencing will be on June 14th. Defendants in similar cases recently have had a range of sentences including substantial court costs, community service orders and suspended sentences. After saying they planned to do the same again, some were given immediate custodial sentences of a few weeks.

Fr Martin said: “Christians are called to live by the law of God’s Kingdom above all, and God’s laws at times lead us into conflict with human laws. The human court has decided we are ‘guilty’, but in the Kingdom of God there is a higher court. Pope Francis calls us to hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. I took part in Insulate Britain in an attempt to take that call seriously. Pope Francis said in Laudato Si that our common home which is the earth is among the most abused and neglected of our neighbours. I live and work with refugees and asylum seekers. So I am acutely aware of the increasing impact of extreme weather resulting from climate change, such as the floods in Congo that recently killed over 400 people from one region. Increasing inequality and fuel poverty within the UK is also a moral scandal that cries to heaven. The Gospel call to hear these urgent cries is what impelled me to take part in the Insulate Britain campaign.”

Ben Buse said: “Science documents our warming world and the increases in extreme weather, as well as it’s unequal impacts. Christian Aid have reported the devastation already happening. It is a justice issue, a refugee issue, a biodiversity issue. Action is required at all levels. Dover Port was an iconic place to call for government action in the run up to COP 26 in Glasgow. 9,500 people also die of cold, uninsulated homes each winter in the UK. Christian faith requires us to tackle problems at the root. We need structural change, laying the foundations for a just, equitable and sustainable future. A future where creation can heal and be restored, anticipating the the time when all will be righted.”

The group point out that the trial comes after a series of unprecedented floods, droughts and heat waves have wreaked havoc across the globe, some of which “would be almost impossible without climate change” according to the ‘World Weather Attribution initiative’ and the UN IPCC report in March warned that only swift and drastic action can avert irrevocable damage.


Insulate Britain: Insulate Britain Press Statement

CAFOD director on new climate report: ‘Its now or never’: www.indcatholicnews.com/news/44414

Love the Stranger: Refugee Support Event at Farm Street, 24 May, 7pm

Rooting our response to refugees and migrants in the innate worth of each human person.

Bishop Paul McAleenan, lead bishop for migrants and refugees for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales joins Bishop John Perumbalath, Anglican Bishop of Liverpooland Chair of Churches Refugee Network, for an evening with the London Churches Refugee Fund

Frontline workers from the projects supported by the fund will also be giving testimonies at the event.

‘Love the Stranger’ , Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, W1K 3AH, Wednesday, 24 May 2023, at 7pm.

The Citizens of the World Choir will also be performing.

Followed by refreshments, meeting and greetings in the Arrupe Hall.

For further details email info@lcrf.org.uk or visit: www.lcrf.org.uk/

Laudato Si’ Week, 21-28 May 2023

8th Anniversary

People around the world are being invited to celebrate Laudato Si’ Week 2023 from 21-28 May with the theme: Hope for the Earth, Hope for Humanity.

Laudato Si’ Week 2023 marks the eighth anniversary of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical on care for creation. Laudato Si’ was first published 24 May 2015.

Communities are invited to base their celebrations around the 2022 film “The Letter” which tells the story of a journey to Rome of five frontline leaders – Arouna, Ridhima, Chief Dadá, Greg and Robin, respectively representing the poor, the youth of the world, the indigenous peoples and earth scientists – to discuss the encyclical letter Laudato Si’ with Pope Francis. 

This global celebration will unite Catholics to rejoice in the progress we have made in bringing Laudato Si’ to life, and show how the protagonists of “The Letter” are already doing so. The film can be watched for free online.

Visit the Laudato Si’ Week website for the link to watch The Letter

Laudato Si’ Week in South Sudan

Another idea for Laudato Si’ Week is to follow the Solidarity with South Sudan programme.

Every day Solidarity with South Sudan will publish news and stories from the South Sudan, the world’s newest country, to show you how their projects and communities meet the Laudato Sì Goals.

You can visit their website and Social media from 21 May to 28 May to remain updated on the Solidarity mission in South Sudan.

Prayer for Laudato Si’ Week 2023


Laudato Si’ Week Ideas

Care of Creation Resources

Care of Creation Key Dates

Southern Dioceses Environment Network

Diocese of Westminster Road to Carbon Neutrality

Our Lady of Victories Event 30 May, 7pm. Untold Stories: The Holy Land and Us ~ What can we learn?

Sarah Agha Headshots by Michael Shelford

Join us for this conversation between Sarah Agha, co-presenter of the acclaimed BBC2 series with Dr Harry Hagopian, ecumenical consultant, international lawyer & analyst on the MENA & Gulf regions.

This event, moderated by Mgr James Curry, is inspired by the recently-acclaimed BBC2 documentary featuring Sarah Agha and Rob Rinder.

We hope to gain some insight into the Palestinian al-Nakba or the Great Catastrophe – the name given to the dramatic and multi-layered impact upon Palestinians following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

Where? Our Lady of Victories in the Parish Centre, 235a Kensington High Street, W8

When? Tuesday, May 30th, 7-8.30pm

All welcome. Admission is free, no ticket needed .We do ask you to register on Eventbrite if possible : simply to help us keep a tab on numbers. Refreshments will follow the conversation

Register here: https://untold-stories.eventbrite.co.uk

The documentary (in two 75-minute episodes) is on BBC i-Player: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001k3wj

You can also watch Dr Hagopian’s take of the two narratives on his You-Tube channel: https://youtu.be/Vm-qvByXHIc

Nakba National March, London, Saturday 13 May 2023

Nakba 75:  National March, London – Saturday 13th May 2023

Catholic peace organisation, Pax Christi, will be among many other groups joining the national march organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign in London this coming Saturday to mark the 75th anniversary of the ongoing Nakba.

The assembly point is the BBC, Portland Place W1A from 12pm.  Let them know on info@paxchristi.org.uk if you are coming along or look out for the Pax Christi banners on the day.  

Palestinian Solidarity Campaign

Pax Christi

Next Prayer Vigil outside the Home Office for Migrants and Refugees – 15th May, 12.30-1.30pm

Prayer Vigil for Migrants and Refugees

Date: May 15th 2023
Time: 12.30-1.30pm
Location: Opposite HOME OFFICE, Marsham Street, SW1P 4DF

Join us to pray for

  • those who have died trying to reach the UK
  • the many victims of current wars
  • asylum seekers in detention centres, and those who are homeless
  • those who struggle to inject welcome and humanity into our legislation

We invite you to join us every third Monday of the month, remembering those who have died, and praying for those who are struggling for safety. Just come along on the day or contact us for the prayer resources in advice: Barbara Kentish – barbarakentish11@gmail.com or Br Johannes Maertens – johanmaertens@amys251

Organised by

The London Catholic Worker
Westminster Justice & Peace
London Churches Refugee Fund

Call for action as number of vacant properties hits all time high yet homeless numbers soar

Caritas Westminster and the Central London Catholic Churches projects for the homeless are among those calling for urgent action

Jo Siedlecka – Independent Catholic News

There has been a dramatic increase in homelessness in England in the past year. At the same time, latest data shows there has been a huge rise in the number of empty properties. Campaign group Action on Empty Homes estimate that the proportion of long-term empty homes – vacant for six months or more – hit a record 248,633 in 2022, over 11,000 more than the previous year.

BBC Report – Most Empty Homes in London since 2010

In London, some 34,327 properties are described as “long-term vacant”, meaning that they had not been lived in for more than six months and were “substantially unfurnished”, as of March 31, 2022.

Between April and September 2022, 5,712 people were sleeping rough in London, a 21% increase compared to previous year – Shelter reports.

The number of individuals sleeping rough across the country is 74% higher than it was in 2010, when the data started being collected. These figures are likely to be an underestimate of rough sleeping, as people spending the night in less visible locations like parks and buses are often missed.

During the ‘Everyone In’ scheme during the Covid pandemic, nearly all rough sleepers in towns and cities across the country were brought from the cold and housed in hotels and hostels. But very few were offered permanent accommodation. Once the pandemic ended, people were forced back on the streets.

While the number of single people sleeping rough continues to grow, many more families are also struggling to find accommodation. The government’s latest statutory homelessness figures, which show the number of households who approached their local council between July and September 2022 and were found to be homeless or at risk of homelessness within the next eight weeks, reveal:

– 72,320 households in England became homeless or were at imminent risk of becoming homeless – a 4% annual rise on the same period last year.

– In the same period, 25,570 families with children faced homelessness – an 8% annual rise on the same period last year. Many of these families will end up in unstable and poor-quality temporary accommodation, including hostels and B&Bs.

Fr Dominic Robinson, SJ, Parish Priest at Farm Street Church, Mayfair, and Chair of Westminster Diocese Justice and Peace Commission, told ICN: “These staggering statistics are not just extremely worrying but should be a wake-up call to those who can make a difference to work with charitable agencies and faith groups more closely to address the housing crisis in the capital.

“Our volunteers are seeing every day how the issue of ‘homelessness’ is not just more serious than ever but more complex than traditional rough sleeping and we need to realise that.

“Appalling housing conditions, sofa surfing, living on and off of night buses is a daily reality and it is getting worse. Surely this outrageous revelation of the amount of empty property in London represents an opportunity to do something about this.

“But it is not the only solution of course. Affordable housing, community integration and above all treating those in desperate need more humanely must be at the heart of policy decisions both locally and nationally.”

BBC Report – Most Empty Homes in London since 2010

CARJ Webinar series: The Struggle for Racial Justice

The Struggle for Racial Justice: Recalling the past and discerning the future. A CARJ series of webinars will take place from May to August 2023. The aim of these webinars is to reflect on the history of the past 75 years and attempt to discern the best ways forward for society and for the Church in the effort to bring about a more just, more equal and more cooperative society.

The Webinars will take place on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings. Each Webinar will last for an hour and a half. There will be two speakers and ample time for discussion. Yogi Sutton will Chair the Webinars. The Webinars are free. To register for one or more webinars or if you need further information, please contact the CARJ Administrator at info@carj.org.uk A link will be sent to all who register. The Webinars will be recorded and will be available on the CARJ website until the end of August 2023.

The Changing Face of Britain – A Brief History 1947-2023 – Saturday 27 May (10 – 11.30am)

Persistent inequality and Racism over the past 75 years – Thursday 15 June (7 – 8.30pm)

Combatting Racism – different approaches over the past 75 years – Thursday 29 June (7 – 8.30pm)

The Churches role in combatting racism over the past 75 years – Thursday 6 July (7 – 8.30pm)

Combatting racism – An Agenda for the Future for Britain – Saturday 29 July (10 – 11.30am)

The Church’s role in the struggle for Racial Justice in the future – Thursday 3 August (7 – 8.30pm)

These Webinars are a preparation for CARJ’s 40th Anniversary in 2024.


CARJ: www.carj.org.uk/