THE HOMELESS, people with disabilities, the elderly and those on low incomes are all welcome at Maybury Open Door at St Pauls Church, Harlow.
Volunteers are happy to help anyone who comes in, the only restriction is that they must be over 18. One such person was Tony Bissoni. Born in London in 1947, he expressed his love for travelling and has been to places such as Naples, Rome and Florence to name just a few ‘Going to different places you find out their history’. The centre has a Christian ethos and despite Tony being a devout Roman Catholic, the staff have been more than happy to accommodate his needs. They have provided Tony with an audiobook of the bible, which he listens to every time he visits.
Maybury open door has a multitude of activities, ranging from prayer groups on a Tuesday to snooker tables and art activities; the centre really does its best to cater for whoever enters. Job opportunities are offered to people with special needs and in this way the centre involves the visitors into the communities.
Centre Volunteer Michael Raven said ‘It gives them self-worth. ‘It’s great that this has helped them’.
Maybury Open Door has great links to the Streets2Homes, a charity focused on helping the homeless; Family Mosaic an Essex based service which provides housing related support to anyone in need, and the Harlow Citizens Advice Bureau which cover issues relating to housing, debt and benefits.
The centre has a kitchen full of everything you could want, including sweet treats, comforting warm drinks and a smiling team made up of June MacFarlane and Noreen Davies serving up the goodies. Produce is reasonably priced with items starting from as little as 50p.
Just upstairs in the church is the Harlow foodbank, a volunteer and donation run organisation, which helps people and families in crisis. Multiple companies donate fresh and chilled provisions such as eggs from Greenways, potatoes from Hightree Packers and a selection of fresh fruit and veg from UK Salads.
Duncan Craig, satellite manager for the foodbank, described the help they received from the community: ‘It’s a very good community’ he said ‘however we are absolutely crying out for volunteers’. Every month 400 people are helped by the foodbank. Mr Craig said ‘Sixty five percent of attendees only come once to the foodbank’ which indicates that getting help quickly enables people to get back on their feet. However in extreme cases Mr Craig said support can last for as much as 25 weeks. Mr Craig explained how the religious faiths of the centre co-incided with his own. He volunteers at the foodbank to share his faith by helping people, adding ‘It’s taking the church to the people.’