The Archbishop of Westminster was at Providence Row on Tuesday 10 December to join a Celebration of the work and huge contribution of the Sisters of Mercy to the charity. The Sisters founded Providence Row in 1860 with Father Daniel Gilbert and continued to run it until 1988.
Archbishop Vincent led the thanksgiving service for the work of the Sisters and Providence Row and reflected on the charity’s approach to seeing those who use the centre as people with problems, not problem people. “When we fail to see people as people and see them as statistics then we will fail to support them”. He also looked back on the history of openness: “From the word go this was a charity which was open to everybody, a characteristic of a good charity.”
Providence Row’s CEO, Pam Orchard, reflected on the Sisters’ contribution to the charity over the years: “I am so grateful to the Sisters of Mercy for their incredible commitment to helping the homeless for over 150 years. Their tireless dedication to the cause has been outstanding and they continue to contribute to Providence Row’s work through financial and voluntary support today.”
Over 40 Sisters of Mercy in the UK attended including some coming from Glasgow. One who worked at Providence Row over thirty years ago found it impressive “to see how the work has developed since Crispin Street”.
There was also a blessing of client memorials, whilst the Archbishop planted a tree in memory of Sister Winefride Biddle who served at the charity for over 30 years.
Providence Row tackles the root causes of homelessness to help people get off, and stay off, the streets. Working with people to build skills and confidence is the key to success and Providence Row does this through its trainee schemes, language classes and employment support. It provides for mental health and addiction issues, which is crucial in helping people to rejoin the community. Providence Row also helps people to return to their home communities, in the UK and abroad. Providence Row worked with about 1,000 people over the last year and expects to work with 1,200 people over the next 12 months.