Not far from crowds of commuters going places, there are plenty with nowhere to go.
8:30 am, Waterloo -- the UK’s busiest train station. Commuters stream through the doors with seeming disregard for all around them.
Walk away from the busy entrances towards the Old Vic and the noise of the announcements quieten. Your ears are filled instead with the percussive sounds on the pavement as many hasten to offices, meetings and cafes. Continue past the famous theatre and you’ll notice a ragged group of people, mostly men, standing on the left side of the street. Most of the foot traffic of commuters and workers steer well clear, quickly rushing past on the other side.
As smells of bacon and toast urge them forward, around 80 or so of the less well-heeled of London await their turn to file through the doors of London City Mission’s day centre. Webber Street is a home for those who are homeless, even if only for a few hours a day. It’s here they can take the weight off, where they won’t be moved on, ignored or turned away. A place to be fed, cared for, spoken to, loved.
Feet that stop
The staff at Webber Street, whether paid or voluntary, come from all walks of life; musicians, sound engineers, HR managers, baristas, students, bank managers and rehab workers. But they all share two qualities: A deep knowledge of their own spiritual homelessness before Jesus saved them and a refusal to rush past. Instead of steering clear of the smell, the dirt, the complications, and the difficult behaviour, these feet stop… But it’s hope rather than pity that’s on offer here.
Daniel Coghill, one of the Floor Coordinators at the centre, tells us:
“At Webber Street I can sit down to breakfast with someone who was a child soldier in a West African civil war, a former professional who’s fallen through the gaps of society with no family to support them, and a person with severe mental health issues all sitting on the same table.
Our guests come from all walks of life; some are alcoholics, drug addicts, foreign migrants who arrived without a job or money, ex-military men, refugees, or simply unable to support themselves. Aside from their situation, the one thing they all need is hope that it can improve.”
A quiet respect for the privacy and self-worth of the guests is peppered with challenging gospel conversations and a daily talk from the Bible. The staff are well aware of the practical help and friendship needed to see these individuals find a home and begin to look after themselves. Hope Community Homes was set up to address this need. But the Webber Street team is even more aware of the guests’ greatest need: the hope and home found in Jesus.
- Pray for Daniel and the team as they share the hope of the gospel.
- Pray for safety and peace at the centre.
- Pray for and give financial support to multiply the number of feet willing to stop.