The Parish of Old St Pancras

The Parish of Old St Pancras
Government funding cuts have affected service provision. For example the closure of a local day centre in Camden created the need for somewhere for older people to meet and socialise. Thanks to a generous grant from The Friendly Hand, the Magdalen Club was established in June 2011 at St Mary’s Church, Somers Town offering a hot three-course lunch for up to thirty people once a week, followed by bingo. It’s proved a big hit with participants as the following selection of comments illustrate:

“It is such a lovely way to spend an afternoon.  Since the closure of the local day centre, it is the only opportunity some of us have to meet up with some of these people.”

from a Russian visitor: “When these people are playing bingo, they cease to be old!”

“The Magdalen Club has become such a natural part of our routine that it feels like we have been doing it for many years.”

In February 2012 the Club had a distinguished visitor, HRH the Prince of Wales, who clearly enjoyed the occasion as much as the locals!

At the other end of the age spectrum, another vital Friendly Hand-sponsored activity at St Mary’s is a Mums & Tots Group meeting on two days a week. It is serviced by two experienced coordinators and provides an affordable venue to foster community links.

Equally vital, during the winter months, is a Night Shelter for those who would otherwise be sleeping rough on the streets. In 2012 it was operating at full capacity of 15 guests not only every Sunday night but Saturday nights as well due to the closure of other centres. The whole parish comes together to support this work, and raise funds, but without the core Friendly Hand funding to meet the huge gas bills, to keep the church warm, we would struggle to sustain this activity.
Mental health is a key issue in the parish and so Friendly Hand’s support of a new low-cost counselling service, based at St Michael’s church Camden but serving the whole parish, has proved timely. It is now reported to be operating at near capacity.  Another project at St Michael’s is a gardening project, supervised by a professional gardener, that meets weekly at the church and whose work was also admired during the recent Royal Visit.

Further support from Friendly Hand for an Older Peoples Community Association at St Pancras Old Church enables those pensioners who could not often afford outings to go on local tours. In 2011 these included: nearby St Pancras International station; Hampstead Gardens; and the City of London Guildhall. They proved immensely popular.

Similarly, the annual youth holiday, which is attended by about 20 young people most of whom would otherwise have no holiday all summer, is now being supported by The Friendly Hand.

Smaller subsidies to enable our hospital chaplaincies to supply bibles and crosses, where requested, underline the spiritual support at the heart of our parish mission.

It would be no exaggeration to say that a major part of the success of our parish, in outreach to the community, has been made possible by The Friendly Hand to whom we are truly grateful.