Archbishop of Canterbury visits Providence Row homeless day centre
Tuesday 6th December 2011The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, together with the Joint Presidents of the Council of Christians and Jews, visited Providence Row at the Dellow Centre in the City of London.
The Presidents were shown the work of the Centre which helps unemployed and homeless people build their skills and confidence through its Bike Works, computer studio and training scheme for painting and decorating. The Presidents, who head all of the major Christian and Jewish denominations, also rolledup their sleeves in a variety of tasks alongside Providence Row clients and volunteers from the City of London Boys and Girls Schools.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said:
“Mitzvah day is a very important and very refreshing expression of Jewish commitment, that’s developed quite a lot in recent years. So when, today, the Presidents of the Council of Christians and Jews decided to join in some of these activities helping with a bit of cookery in a centre for the homeless in East London, it was an important expression of how we as Christians can get alongside our Jewish friends in their service to the community as a whole and discover something together. Dialogue is never just about words, today it was very importantly about a bit of action together as well, and I’m very grateful to have been part of it”.
Rabbi Tony Bayfield joined the Archbishop of Westminster, the Head of the Free Churches and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland in stacking shelves and stocking freezers in the Centre’s stores. The foodstuffs were donated by the two schools as part of the recent Mitzvah Day initiative. The leaders of Liberal, Reform and Masorti Judaism prepared mince pies with the Centre’s clients and volunteers ready for the next day’s meals.
Rabbi Tony Bayfield said:
“I think we are two faiths that have been divided by our theologies and too much antagonism for too long – but now you see two faiths sharing a common ethic, and rolling up their metaphorical sleeves and getting down to do what both Christianity and Judaism teach”.
Pam Orchard of Providence Row said:
“Today was a great opportunity to bring together people from different faiths and the local community to help us in working with homeless people. Our trainee schemes, language classes, and workshops are vital in helping people to re-build their lives and help them see what they can do, not what they can’t. The people we work with – rough sleepers, those experiencing mental health problems or addictions – would often be excluded from other schemes but ours is open to anybody who wants to take the next step in a life away from the streets. As the weather gets colder and rough sleeping becomes even more dangerous, we see a greater demand for our services and it is only with the support of people and groups such as Mitzvah Day and the CCJ that we are able to continue help and support”.
Providence Row: CCJ Presidents with staff and volunteers.
CCJ was founded in 1942 by the Chief Rabbi and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Over time the leaders of the UK’s major Christian and Jewish denominations have joined the Presidency. CCJ is committed to promoting dialogue and understanding and works to overcome religious prejudice, especially antisemitism.
Mitzvah Day was established in 2005 and aims to bring people into hands-on social action projects in their neighbourhoods, so building relationships with charities and stronger local communities.
Providence Row tackles the root causes of homelessness to help people get off and stay off the streets. It provides a range of services to build skills and confidence, including trainee schemes, language classes, workshops to improve employability, and support for mental health and addiction issues.