Sherriff Centre 'feels like a large family' and thanks West Hampstead as it turns 5
PUBLISHED: 10:11 15 August 2019
Just over five years ago West Hampstead almost lost its Post Office.
But then Father Andrew Foreshew-Cain had an idea - why not put the facility in St James' Church?
After some wrangling and a few more good ideas, the Sherriff Centre opened in July 2014 and half a decade later it's still going strong.
The centre, which also has a cafe, soft play area and gift shop, has been pushing all the money it makes into running a debt advice clinic for the community.
Since 2017 it has helped 100 local people.
It also has a community fridge - which holds fresh produce donated for those who need it.
As it turned five, it held a family fun day to thank visitors and celebrate.
Centre manager Steph Duell told this newspaper all about it.
She said: "The family fun day was an opportunity to celebrate that we are still here and to remember what we've managed to achieve.
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"The mayor came - although I'm not sure if she brought her new baby - and the church's Father Robert called the raffle!"
Steph added that the way the service, led by Paul Scannell, was a huge success.
She said: "What's great is we are not bound by any box-ticking - if it takes Paul however long with people to get them out of debt that's fine.
"We got a really lovely email this week, a women wanted to say thank you for helping her mother.
She also praised the community spirit the Sherriff Centre had tapped into, adding: "People understand that when they come and buy a coffee from the Sanctuary Cafe, that that money is supporting the community.
"It feels like a large family here. "Parents look out for their own kids and other people's - everyone's keeping an eye.
"And as s we are a church, we do find people in need - people who have been sleeping rough - come to us, so we always ensure they've got something to eat, a cuppa."
Now, the centre is keen to use its birthday to bring in donations.
So far they have raised £360 of their £1,000 goal.
To donate, please see the Sherriff Centre's crowdfunding page here.