Here’s a short 2012 report I wrote for St. Stephen’s C of E Church on the film club for the homeless:
2012 was a year of growth for the St. Stephen’s Film Club for the homeless which met each week except for the month of August and on New Year’s Eve. We began an official relationship with a small charity, Streetlytes, as they agreed to cook a good hot meal for all of our guests each week.
Typically, volunteers from Streetlytes arrive about 2:30pm to beginning the process of preparing the evening meal. Between 3:30 and 4:30pm, volunteers for the evening film club return the seat cushions to the upstairs loft and set up tables for the evening meal.
From January to July, Edd Stock was responsible for selecting and purchasing the DVDs. Most of the films where action oriented with titles such as Ironman, Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. With Edd’s departure, the responsibilities for the club were divided between Amy Shearing, Rudi Richardson and myself, Chris Hatch. Amy selects and secures the DVDs, Rudi overseas the meal and other Streetlytes initiatives while I coordinate the volunteers and serve as chaplain. We continue to watch a number of action films but Amy has broadened our selection to include some comedy, drama and even one silent classic film, The General. The film club was moved from Thursdays to Mondays in the autumn of 2012 to accommodate the Streetlytes weekly schedule.
The film club grew in numbers as we now average about 80 guests each week with 10 to 15 volunteers helping to serve. We distributed clothing, sleeping bags and other donations from local businesses, the New West End synagogue and Muslim Aid during the year. We ended the year with a Christmas dinner for over 100 guests and 25 volunteers on Christmas Eve. The mounting of the projector in the late autumn was a significant improvement as it reduced both set-up/tear down time and the possibility of accidental damage to the projector.
We have had our share of problems during the year but none which were beyond what would be expected when dealing with a broken and vulnerable population. There were a few arguments, instances of alcohol drinking and other disorderly conduct but none of which resulted in the calling of the police in 2012. We did have three of our Polish guests die in December which shows the tragic nature of life on the streets of London.
There have been numerous highlights during the year – genuine friendships which have grown, the growing diversity of the guests, and stories of new jobs, new accommodations, and new spiritual life. God is at work in the lives of those who come together each week for a meal and a movie. For as Jesus said in Matthew 25, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” We look forward 2013 as we continue to serve “the least of these” in our community.