Transforming St James the Less in Pimlico
Published: Friday, February 20, 2015
The project to rejuvenate the much needed Parish Centre of St James the Less Church in Pimlico is nearing completion, with funding support from the National Churches Trust.
In the summer of 2013, the National Churches Trust was pleased to support St James the Less Church in Pimlico with a £10,000 National Churches Trust Community Grant to help fund a project to restore and reconfigure its Parish Centre.
The Centre had not been in use since December 2010, when the heating and electrical systems failed. This was a severe loss to the local community, many of whom live in nearby social housing developments of around 1000 homes, included within the UK’s 10% most deprived areas.
The project reconfigures the layout of the Centre, creating better-sized rooms, accessible toilet facilities and a bigger kitchen with serving hatches. Once completed, the Centre will be able to be used for a large number of different purposes that serve the needs of the local community, including a weekly Toddler Group, a community fete, and the Open Door homeless meal, that had been running fortnightly for over 20 years at St James the Less, before the decline of its Parish Centre forced it to close.
Serving the community
We are pleased to report that we have just received an update from Jack Adams, Pastoral Assistant at St James the Less, that the team are in the very final stages of their project, and in March will be unveiling the new Parish Centre at a special Opening Ceremony, attended by the Bishop of London. The new centre will include an accessible toilet facilities and a bigger kitchen with serving hatches. Once completed, the Centre will be able to be used for a large number of different purposes that serve the needs of the local community, including a weekly Toddler Group, a community fete, and the Open Door homeless meal.
A new lease of life
Jack Adams says that they have decided to rename the Parish Centre the St James the Less Centre, as a sign of the building’s new lease of life and the exciting work that will take place there. He said:
“The transformation of the St James the Less Centre is a real landmark in the heart of a deprived central Westminster community. Nestled amidst a social housing estate is a Grade I listed jewel designed by G.E. Street, with the Centre directly adjoining his Victorian masterpiece church"
"Originally built by three intrepid sisters (Penelope, Jane and Mary Monk) in the 19th century, who were determined to serve those in the Pimlico slums, a beautiful church and school were established – remarked on by the press at the time as ‘a lily among the weeds’. Having fallen into disrepair by the beginning of the 21st century, the Centre was forced to close, ending community outreach such as the much loved Open Door homeless meal, which had run for over 20 years. Many years of fundraising, and rising to the challenges of restoring a listed site have resulted in a bespoke set of rooms suitable for outreach for the community."
"Specifically focussed on children and families (including those caught up in local gangs), the elderly, the mentally unwell and the homeless, the groups facilitated by the restored St James the Less Centre will be a transforming influence for the most vulnerable in our area."
"This has been made possible by grants such as the £10,000 from the National Churches Trust, who combined a care for the architectural heritage of the site with a passion to serve the community in which it is placed. With this help we are now ready to fulfil once again the mission of the Monk sisters and be a beacon at the heart of Pimlico.”
The National Churches Trust relies solely on the generosity of our supporters to fund our work. Last year we helped to rescue over 140 churches, chapels and meeting houses with grants totally close to £1.5m, but sadly we currently receive far more requests for help than we can possibly answer, and are forced to turn down three out of every four places of worship that apply for a grant.
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