Published: 11:13, 22 February 2021
| Updated: 19:48, 22 February 2021
A church has been recognised in Parliament for the work it has done to help the homeless during the pandemic.
Vicki Clarke, community centre manager at Gravesend Methodist Church, Gravesend, has offered support to more than 250 rough sleepers with her team at the Daytime Hub.
The hub, which runs from the community centre at the back of the church in Wilfred Road, offers food, water, clothing and showers to those in need.
While most support outlets closed last March due to growing concerns over the coronavirus, Vicki recruited a small team to keep theirs running.
The 41-year-old realised that as the homeless community had little access to TV, they could be left in the dark about the virus, making support organisations more important than ever.
She said: "For several years now, the Methodist church has allowed me to operate the Daytime Hub which is open three mornings a week.
"I realised that the most vulnerable people out there had absolutely nowhere to go, and they were terrified.
"They didn't have access to TVs, and they had no concept of social distancing as a lot of them have mental health and addiction problems.
"I got a small team together, as to not mix with too many people, and we changed our output from just sandwiches, tea and coffee to doing a cooked breakfast, so we knew everyone was going to get some hot food."
Since they began, the team has launched its own food bank scheme for those living in temporary accommodation with the support of Gravesham Foodbank, Morrisons in Coldharbour Road and donations from local people.
"All the different churches have really come together to support this cause, and it's really amazing. It's been really nice that everyone has tried to help," Vicki added.
"I was speechless when I heard our names in Parliament. To be honest, it was so unexpected but it was really nice to hear."
In his address to the House of Commons last Thursday, Gravesham MP Adam Holloway said: "The Gravesend Methodist Church, along with all other churches, found many of their volunteers disappear early on, because they were more elderly members and often in vulnerable groups.
"Every church, that I know of, has been handing out food to people in need.
"I really thank all of them, and I know an enormous number of members of parliament who aren't here today are extremely grateful to the faith groups during the last few months."
To find out more about the centre, visit its Facebook page.