Mystery celebrity set to join Zac Goldsmith in Richmond community centre opening


The new outreach centre is opening at the Vineyard Congregational Church tomorrow and is set to provide support for the homeless.


By Joe Gammie

Zac Goldsmith MP and a mystery celebrity are joining officials for the opening of a new outreach centre in Richmond.

The community centre opens at the Vineyard Congregational Church at 3pm tomorrow and will provide support for the homeless and people on the verge of  homelessness.

Bringing together over 11 Richmond churches and homeless charity SPEAR, the Vineyard Community Centre will offer a range of centralised services.

Mr Goldsmith said: “I am grateful and hugely impressed that the community and its local churches have come together to upgrade and reopen what is, sadly, a much-needed facility.

“It is an inspired initiative, and I feel extremely privileged to have been invited to take part in the official opening.”

Bob Kimmerling, Minister of the Vineyard Congregational Church and Director of the Vineyard Community Centre, says they will provide showers, food, clothes and a place for outside agencies to use for outreach work.

“We are grateful for all the help from the community we have received,” he said.

“We are also grateful to the businesses and local people who have helped us to set up again.”

The centre will have a morning drop-in zone for drug and alcohol addicts as well as people with mental health issues.

The opening ceremony celebrates the re-launch of the Vineyard Project, which after 33 years of working with homeless and disadvantaged people in Richmond closed in May 2011.

Richmond-based charity SPEAR will conduct rough-sleeper outreach mornings once a week to keep in touch with candidates who are awaiting a place at SPEAR’s 14-bed hostel.

SPEAR director, Stuart Neville, said: “Our rough sleeper services are in as much demand today as they have ever been in our 25 year history. We are therefore looking forward to the opportunity, through the Community Centre, to reach more entrenched rough sleepers.”

He explained that the charity works with Richmond Council to provide services to around 60 rough sleepers a year and another 70 ex-rough sleepers in independent and semi-independent accommodation.

“Over 90 per cent of the people who we support in our hostel, progress onto independent lifestyles off of the street,” he added.

Mr Goldsmith will be joined tomorrow by Councillor Pamela Fleming, Cabinet Member for Community, Business and Culture, as well as a mystery celebrity who has provided support for the new project.

Richmond Council pledged their support to the venture with a £5,000 donation last month to help with the refurbishments.

Cllr Fleming said: “This is a wonderful example of all the local churches taking a lead and inspiring the community and local businesses to support the Centre’s work with the homeless and socially excluded.”

It will also run a youth night from 7-11pm every Thursday, Friday and Saturday to provide an alternative evening for youngsters in the Borough.

The rough sleepers hotline for SPEAR is 0208 288 6506.


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