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Sherriff Centre 'feels like a large family' and thanks West Hampstead as it turns 5

PUBLISHED: 10:11 15 August 2019

The Sherriff Centre turns five. Picture: Sherriff Centre

The Sherriff Centre turns five. Picture: Sherriff Centre

Archant

Just over five years ago West Hampstead almost lost its Post Office.

Staff at the Sherriff Centre celebrate their fifth birthday. Picture: Sherriff CentreStaff at the Sherriff Centre celebrate their fifth birthday. Picture: Sherriff Centre

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.

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