Several local churches have well organised and effective soup kitchens for the homeless. One of their helpers is Fransiscan nun Sister Ruth, who says she is Catholic and at the same time ecumenical.. She became a nun when she was 23, and having worked all over the world helping starving people she came to London from Ireland, as the damp weather there made her chronic bronchitis and asthma worse. She has become a familiar face to hundreds in Notting Hill where she is responsible alongside others for feeding homeless people in our area, from St Mary of the Angels on Moorhouse Road to St Pius X in St Charles Square.
“I’ve been all round Britain and St Mary’s is the most wonderful place,” says Sister Ruth, “Every morning they [the homeless] are fed breakfast, and between December and March homeless people can sleep in the church hall. A lot of churches do that. Around 50 come.” The Salvation Army also feeds the homeless and offers teased coffees. St Mary Abbotts, which Sister Ruth points out was a Catholic church until Protestants took it over, also hasa food bank, with food collected from churchgoers. “They feed a lot of poor families,” says Sister Ruth. There is also the Latimer Christian Centre on Latimer Road where people can collect food, next to the Methodist Church. St Pius X (pic right), in St Charles Square runs the Missionaries of Charity soup kitchen with free food for local homeless people on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at 4.30pm and cooks Sunday lunch for up to 100 people at 3pm. Local supermarkets not only donate the food but also deliver it.
If you want to volunteer to help, you can work at St Mary’s in the winter evenings, December to March, arranging the beds, or you could help serve breakfasts all year round. “The saddest people [at the soup kitchens] are wives who have been beaten by their husbands and have run away,” says Sister Ruth. Some of the people who come for food are alcoholics and drug addicts. But others are just poor and and can’t get a job. Some are migrants who rely on donations. There is enough food, but they need more volunteers.
Contact Sister Ruth, either to volunteer or for one of her free book of poems, on 075 831 20962.