Drop-in café celebrates two years of helping vulnerable and needy

January 2013

Father Corbett with some of the Worswick Welcome volunteers

Worswick Welcome, the first PACE (Parish and Community Enablement) project to open its doors, has just celebrated its second anniversary.

For the last two years, a team of dedicated volunteers has provided a free drop-in café each week at St Andrew's parish hall in Newcastle, offering some of the most vulnerable members of the community a safe, comfortable place to enjoy food, refreshments and company.

To mark their second anniversary, guests, volunteers and parish priest, Fr Michael Corbett shared a celebration cake and reflected on their journey. Guests enjoyed a varied menu of home-made vegetable soup, hot and cold snacks - and mince and onion pies donated by Dicksons Pork Butchers.

News of the good work done at Worswick Welcome has travelled to other parishes and they often receive visits and donations from people across the region. Among the many visitors on the day were members of St Mary's SVP in Cullercoats, who had held a Christmas raffle to raise funds for the PACE project, and parishioners from SS Peter and Paul in Longbenton who donated boxes of biscuits.

Since opening, volunteers have prepared and served more than 13,000 meals and brought comfort to around 5,000 guests, many of them regular visitors, including those who are homeless or who have significant vulnerabilities.

Thanks to Worswick Welcome, guests who once had nowhere to shelter or feel safe and valued are now known by name and feel comfortable enough to share conversation with volunteers or other guests. By opening up, volunteers have been able to direct them to agencies and organisations which are able to offer help and support.

"It's a tribute to everyone involved that Worswick Welcome has become one of the most cherished communities among those who had long-since lost hope in society," said Fr Michael Corbett. "It is greatly appreciated by guests and volunteers alike, many of whom have been with the project since the doors first opened." 

Worswick Welcome is held every Friday in St Andrew's parish hall, Newcastle and is one of 12 PACE projects around the region run by volunteers and supported by local parishes and St Cuthberts Care.

For more information on Worswick Welcome or PACE, telephone 0191 228 0111.