Harlow’s ‘oasis’

St Paul's Church, Harlow

THE MAYBURY Open Door Adult Drop in Centre strives to create opportunities and a safe environment for the elderly, people with disabilities, homeless, vulnerable, low income and isolated people.

Centre volunteer Michael Raven comments’the centre is an oasis and a  stepping stone to employment.’ Through Michael’s own experience with unemployment, he highlights the need that the centre fulfils in keeping people engaged in something positive. As well as supplying food, the centre also has a quiet corner, an art table, games section, regular bingo and singing groups, keeping attendees busy with a multitude of different activities.

Duncan Craig the satellite manager of the food bank states, ‘despite the amount of poverty within Harlow, the town is hugely generous when donating food.’

Harlow foodbank, a volunteer and donation run organisation

Duncan, originally from Peterborough moved to Harlow to study a degree in theology. However, he decided to change his career and volunteer in the food bank because helping people is his way of ‘sharing his faith.’

Quoting statistics Duncan said, ‘Sixty-five per cent of people only come once and eighty-five per cent have four vouchers which are used within a one month period. The longest anyone has visited the food bank for was 25 weeks.’

The centre caters for around 400 people a month. Last year they helped a total of three thousand people.

Duncan explained how his food bank company is different because it supplies lots of fresh foods; Greenway Eggs donates a weekly supply of fresh eggs, UK Salads provides fruits and vegetables and other food donation charities.

Image by Fin Applegate

The church is supported by donations

Tony Bissoni a Sicilian man originally from London has been attending the centre since 2008. An ex-council worker and street sweeper, he is interested in travelling and enjoys the opportunity to learn about history. Tony explains what the centre has done for him, ‘The centre encourages my Roman Catholic beliefs, they lend me an audio book of the bible, which I listen to over a cup of a tea.’

The centre is also in association with Streets to Homes, which aim to help the homeless, Family Mosaic, which support financial and social issues and Harlow Citizens Advice Bureau.


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George Docking

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