Adrian and Mary Grenville explain how this Church-driven initiative is making a real difference
Bury Drop In was set up by 14 churches in Bury St Edmunds in response to the growing number of people sleeping on the streets. From small beginnings in September 2015, the number of guests has grown from week to week. Just before the first lockdown we had been regularly feeding hot lunches, sandwiches, cakes, fruit and hot drinks to more than 70 guests on Tuesdays and Fridays. We kept in contact with guests and volunteers by Zoom meetings and phone calls and were delighted to reopen in October 2021.
When lockdown was in operation, volunteers set up a scheme called ‘text-magic’ which helped us stay in contact via phone messages. Our guests greatly appreciated this service easing their feelings of loneliness and isolation.
In addition to food we try to help our guests find accommodation, employment, and support debt management, budgeting and benefit applications. We provide bedding, household necessities, furniture and access to agencies which can offer specialised support. We help guests with laundry and shower facilities, and give out donated
toiletries, small items of clothing including underwear, socks, hats, scarves and gloves.
We have been hugely blessed and supported by gifts of food from local supermarkets, and friends who have donated clothing, sleeping bags, blankets and money. Bicycles have been renovated and safety checked and given to guests to help in their search for work.
One notable success is a group of guests who formed a mutually supportive friendship set,
characterised by lots of fun and laughter. They always sat together and we know them as “Table One”. They have built up confidence and independence and meet
every week and organise their own activities including games and puzzles. They plan, shop and cook their own meals under the guardianship of one of our volunteers. Now
almost fully independent they remain in contact with us and are welcome to join us at Drop In whenever they wish.
Looking to the future, we pray for guidance and continued support so that we will be able to help our guests in learning to cook basic meals, gardening growing vegetables, art and craft activities and theatre workshops.
Our goal is to expand our support and help for the increasing numbers of vulnerable people in the area. If you would like to know more about Bury Drop In or help
support the work, please visit our website to find about more about our current volunteering opportunities. you’ll find us at www.burydropin.org/volunteer.html