The Bishop of Stepney, Adrian Newman, has formally opened and dedicated the Open Door Centre at Christ Church, Barnet. The new community centre will provide a daily drop-in facility, a café and lunches, as well as rooms for hire for meetings, activities and conferences.
Other prominent attendees at the official opening included Theresa Villiers, who has served as MP for Chipping Barnet since 2005, the Deputy Lieutenant of the London Borough of Barnet Martin Russell, The Archdeacon of Hampstead The Revd. John Hawkins, The Area Dean The Revd Dr Gregory Platten and The Mayor of Barnet, Cllr. David Longstaff.
Members of Christ Church Barnet have a long-held vision to increase support for older adults in the Barnet community and an appeal was formally launched in November 2010 to raise funds to purchase and re-develop the Victorian building which is situated next door to the church in St Albans Road into the Open Door Centre. After seven years of fundraising the group raised over £1.1 million to ‘buy back’ and renovate the building that once served as the original place of worship and school for Christ Church.
The Centre is light and spacious with comfortable seating, meeting rooms and a drop-in café which is open Tuesday to Friday from 9.00 – 4.00pm for tea, coffee and light lunches. It is already being used as a support centre by carers and clients from the Alzheimer’s Society and when fully operational, the Centre will be a hub providing opportunities for a variety of community activities which will include an intergenerational approach.
Associate Vicar of Christ Church Barnet, Joanna James, said: “The tireless fundraising over the past seven years show how committed our community is to providing support and companionship to those who need it most. It has been their vision since this project began and without them it would not have been possible. The Open Door Centre will offer practical help, companionship, activities and hope – with an open door to everyone. We are all looking forward to reducing loneliness and isolation among our older people whilst increasing a sense of togetherness within the community.”
The Bishop of Stepney, Adrian Newman, said: “The Open Door Centre demonstrates the strength of our communities when they come together to work towards a common goal. In an increasingly fragmented world, it is inspiring to see communities coming together to support one another. I look forward to hearing about all of the good work that takes place here and wish them all well for the future. Well done to the whole team who have turned vision into reality.”
Local community groups, past and present member of the congregation, as well as past pupils from the original Parochial School were also represented at the official opening.
The Open Door Centre is run by the John Trotter Trust which is a registered Charity for the ODC (Reg. No. 1141414) and is supported by Christ Church, Barnet.
Photo credit: Bob Blyth