A message from our Chief Executive...

March 27, 2020

A number of you have been in touch to share your thoughts and concerns about the global health crisis, anxious not just for your friends, families and colleagues but worried about what it will mean for the work of the Cardinal Hume Centre. I am writing to tell you about how we plan to meet the extraordinary challenges of the coming weeks and months.

We are navigating this evolving crisis in the run up to Easter. With the future looking so uncertain, it is easy to feel that the hope we normally associate with this time is hard to find. I would like to assure you that there are still signs of hope at the Cardinal Hume Centre. Not least in the commitment of our staff and in the resilience of our clients. As supporters, you too play an essential part in this, and I want to thank you for your faithful support and let you know what we need.

Above all, we are determined to remain a home, a place of safety, for the 37 young people who live in our hostel. With schools, colleges, gyms and cafés closed, it is obviously harder for them to meet friends or other support networks. We are doing what we can to maintain emotional well-being, buying essential toiletries for residents who have to stay in their rooms, and providing activities to maintain morale. Hostel staff are supporting residents who need to self-isolate through video calls. Normally, the residents cook for themselves  but last week staff and residents worked together to prepare batches of food to be frozen and shared if anyone falls ill.

We are also determined to do everything we can to keep our wider advice services open. Albeit, with a smaller team: following government guidelines, advisors are now working remotely to help people with their financial, housing or legal needs via telephone. Even at the best of times many of the young people and families we support struggle, and now, with most workplaces closed, they are confronting even greater hardship and uncertainty.

Those who have been surviving on tenuous employment contracts are even more at risk of losing their jobs. Even as we are being told to stay in our homes, as I write, our advisors are supporting families who face eviction notices which pre-date this crisis. They need our support to ensure they can stay safely where they are. For those most in need, we will continue to provide emergency food supplies and will send food vouchers to those who are desperate but cannot come in.

We can only do this thanks to your support. Our heartfelt thanks go to those of you who have already responded so generously to the Lent appeal that we sent out a month ago. Thanks also if you gave to the recent successful JustGiving emergency food appeal. We are facing financial challenges because sources of funding, such as the proceeds from church collections, school fundraisers, or sponsored events, have inevitably been affected. It is in this climate that we are asking our supporters, already so generous to the Centre, to help us insofar as you are able.

For over thirty years, the Cardinal Hume Centre has sought to follow the Benedictine example of our founder by offering a welcoming and safe environment for people in the greatest need. In times like these, it is more vital than ever that we care for and remain connected to one another.

You will be in our thoughts and prayers in the weeks ahead, and if you feel able we would be very grateful for your prayers for us  " that we may all have confidence and hope in the future.

With every good wish this Easter,

George O'Neill
Chief Executive