The St. Paul’s Social Services Food Bank and The Fellowship Centre (Soup Kitchen) is a registered charity (119194389RR0002) that provides community wide social services, advocacy, support, fellowship, and community building in the heart of London Ontario’s downtown core. The Food Bank provides basic necessities to hundreds of families per month who are facing hard financial times. Of the recipients, approximately 40% are children. The Fellowship Centre serves many nutritious meals to disadvantaged adults a month.
The primary catalyst for our renovation project is physical barrier-free accessibility, in order to facilitate the growing number of individuals, families and children in need reaching our programs and services.
Our organization, is a non-sectarian social service provider supported by over 50 London and area churches of various denominations, a number of service and fraternal organizations and hundreds of caring individuals on a regular, ongoing basis. A volunteer board of directors oversees the operation of our various programs.
The Social Services Programming, as well as other community services, are located in the ‘east wing’, adjacent to St. Paul’s Cathedral. This addition was constructed in 1958 and serves three basic functions today:
Currently our building has 3 exterior ramps, one accessing the Cathedral, the second accessing the east wing community service, and the third accessing the West door near Cronyn Hall; however none connect to any of the social services programs we offer. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the Ontario Building Code requires 50% of our entrances be wheelchair accessible.
The Fellowship Centre (soup kitchen) is located in the lower (basement) level, which requires guests to travel up and down several flights of stairs. The St Paul’s Social Services Food Bank is located on an upper floor and requires program recipients to climb and descend a full flight of stairs while carrying heavy hampers of food. The volume of food that stocks the shelves of our very busy food bank is enormous and volunteers must carry every case up these stairs as well.
Many community groups make use of our space. Mathews Hall, Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous use the lower levels of our building. Again, these great programs are restricted by stairs, thus limiting those who can access the services.
The proposed renovation would enhance accessibility to all of the aforementioned programs.
The St Paul’s Social Services Food Bank and The Fellowship Centre (Soup Kitchen) project “Renew the Cathedral, Reach out, Build Within” is a renovation of our existing building. The work we are undertaking would involve 3 floors of space and result in the harmonizing of functions within the space. Further, the creation of expanded and re-purposed program areas would provide accessibility to people from our community who depend on us. This project would create wheelchair access throughout the main, upper and lower levels of the building through ramps, elevator access and barrier-free washrooms.
The original design of the renovation provided an elevator, two new barrier- free access ramps and a minimum of 4 new accessible washrooms. It would also result in the social service programs being located on one level, removing the need to use at least two flights of stairs in the process. We have been working with Wasylko Architect Inc. to refine our plans and ensure that we provide solutions to all of the needs that our consultative process uncovered.
Community Partners and Supporters
As we launched this ambitious undertaking we confirmed initial financial support from private donors, such as Mr. Richard Ivey. Mr. Ivey’s contribution helped complete Phase I of our project. We applied to many Canadian grants such as the Ontario Trillium Foundation, The Government of Canada’s Enabling Accessibilities Fund through HRSDC, and New Horizon’s Program for Seniors. We have had various letters of support for our project from other social service providers within the City of London. Further, we established an excellent Campaign Leadership Cabinet, comprised of community leadership volunteers who were committed to ensuring we were successful in raising these essential dollars.
As of September 2016, the Campaign Leadership Team decided to put the project on hold ( on hiatus for 2 years ) so that all parishioners can focus on Project Jericho ( major structural repair to the nave of the Cathedral ). Currently, we are not actively fundraising but we will look forward to your financial support.
As we continue to welcome the thousands who arrive at our doorstep each year in need of nourishment and service of all kinds, we are excited by future possibilities. From the dedicated volunteers and staff who provide our programming, to the most vulnerable citizens in our city whom we serve, we thank you for your consideration of this project.
With your help, we can ensure that The St Paul’s Social Services Food Bank and The Fellowship Centre (Soup Kitchen)…in the heart of London Ontario, is truly a place “where everyone is IN”.