15 November 2017
By Philomena Grimley, SHCJ
Recently, it was a very special day for the LOAVES and FISHES Project in Salford, England. It marked the formal opening of their new and permanent home on Paddington Close, near the Salford shopping precinct. It was the Bishop of Salford, John Arnold, who described this as Chapter Three in the life of the project when he unveiled a commemorative plaque. He spoke with great conviction about the need to reach out t o people on the margins, the casualties in society today. In the prayer of blessing he acknowledged that here in the Centre they would find that they mattered and were treated with dignity and respect.
Of course Chapter One is part of our province history! It began when Holy Child sisters Kathleen King and Mary Taylor opened the Centre for people in need in the crypt of Salford Cathedral many years ago now. There will be those of you in the province who have helped there or visited when there was an SHCJ community in the Cathedral House as well as in Canon Hussey Court nearby. Chapter Two was when we had to leave the Cathedral and move to the Windsor Centre rented from Manchester City Mission. But this past year a new premises was offered to the Project and it came at a crit ical time because it was no longer going to be possible to maintain services from the Windsor Centre .
Thanks to the generosity of the Edward Holt Charitable Trust , a former, but empty, NHS centre became available opposite the Job Centre. The Trust, which supports housing for elderly people and other projects for homeless people, has purchased the building and made it available to the Project for a peppercorn rent. Before he too unveiled a commemorative plaque, the chair of the Trust, Richard Kershaw, spoke of their desire to see the Salford Loaves and Fishes Project flourish and extend their services to the community to even five days a week.
Jane Murphy on behalf of the trustees had welcomed everyone to the opening and she thanked all the supporters and major donors of the Project who were there. The SHCJ were especially welcomed and thanked. Holy Child sisters Carmel Murtagh, Monica Matthews and Philo Grimley were proud to be present and join Anne Stewart, SHCJ, who is one of the twelve trustees. Several of our Associates were also present as a number of them have served in the Project over the years. It was lovely to meet Maureen Hamilton, Betsy Keating, Anne Naughton, Renee Tyldesley and Barbara Parkhurst.
The Project employs seven members of staff and has at least thirty-five volunteers . At present about 70 people come to the Centre each day it is open and, as well as a good meal, they can receive many other services to support them through hard times. One of the regular visitors, Debbie, told us how the Centre had helped her when she was homeless. She was accompanied, assisted with budgeting, given the opportunity for further education and offered friendship. One of the volunteers described life in the Centre where she has worked for the past nine years and where, she told us, she receives far more than she gives.
Canon David Wyatt, vicar of St Paul’s nearby and friend of the Project for many years offered the closing prayer, together with Father Sean Fagan from the local parish.
It was altogether a very happy occasion as you will see from the photos. So, whenever we see Salford Loaves and Fishes in our list of projects we support as a province we can pray that its Chapter Three will be long and successful for all who serve and are welcomed there.