First Time Hosting for St John's East Dulwich

There were a lot of questions we had at St John’s East Dulwich when we agreed to host the Robes Project on Saturday nights from January to March. We knew the Goose Green Centre – attached to the church – could be used to accommodate 20 or so people overnight, but no one could recall that it had ever done so. Would the central heating cope? Would we get enough volunteers? Would we be able to clean the Centre in time for the Sunday School and crèche during the 10am service? Where would we store all the bedding? Would the shower work? (It had only ever been used for watering plants before.)

To reduce the scale of the challenge we agreed to work jointly with the Copleston Centre. we would host for six weeks and they would do so for five weeks with a shared pool of volunteers. Once we had decided to go ahead the response really was overwhelming, within a few days we had already exceeded our target of 30 volunteers, and we would end up with more than 70 from St John’s, Copleston and the Peckham Mosque. Many more people contributed in other ways, such as by donating food and money.

Despite attending training and visiting another venue, we were unsure what to expect on our first night hosting Robes. But everything went smoothly, and before long both guests and volunteers were relaxed and comfortable in their temporary home. Luckily we had space for those guests who just wanted to rest to do so. Others joined us for copious cups of tea (generally with two or three sugars), a chat and activities. One guest taught the Vicar some new card games, another was playing chess with one of our volunteers past lights out (despite a rebuke from the volunteer’s wife), and one – an avid thriller reader – was pleased to be given a signed copy of a new book by one of our parishioners.

Over the six weeks of hosting Robes, we’ve had a lot of fun with the guests and also a few serious conversations. Many of the volunteers have spoken of how enriching they have found the experience, both in terms of being able to provide support and sustenance to the guests, and in learning about some of the challenges beyond our everyday lives. With so many volunteers taking part, it’s also been an opportunity for people to get to know each other better and find a common purpose on a shared project. Even those not directly involved have been quick to ask on a Sunday morning how things went the night before.

It has been hard work at times but everyone involved has found it rewarding and, as many have said, it is exactly the kind of thing we as a Christian community in south London should be doing. We are looking forward to next year!



Register now for Robes SleepOut 2018

Grab your hats and gloves, the Robes sponsored Sleepout 2018 is coming!

We are delighted to announce that we are once again open for registrations for our annual SleepOut. Hosted by Southwark Cathedral, the SleepOut is an opportunity to experience what it might feel like to sleep rough for one night whilst raising funds for Robes. This is our major fundraising event of the year and is crucial to the survival of the charity. As we continue to see more people accessing our services, we hope to be able to develop our offer so as best to support those who need us.

Click  to find out more about taking part!


Robes Ceilidh Event: Thank you to all our volunteers!

On Friday 20th April, Robes Project held a thank you Ceilidh to say thank you to all our volunteers.

It turned out to be the warmest night of the year so far, but that didn’t stop our volunteers from turning out in force to join us for a Ceilidh to say thank you for all the hard work that people had put in over the 2017/2018 shelter season.

The beautiful St John’s Waterloo was filled with the sound of fiddles as our volunteers dared the Dashing White Sergeant and enjoyed some fabulous dinner. We were delighted the following day to hear some great feedback. It was the very least we could do to show our volunteers our appreciate for supporting us through another shelter season.

A very big thank you to all who came and a special thank you to St John’s Waterloo, Eden Caterers, Lindsey Rousseau, Borderline Band and Eve Milner.

Robes Project supporter, Nicky Nicholls launches book

New Release Date! Robes Project are delighted to share with you details of Nicky Nicholls new book, Not A Proper Child.

The story begins when Nicky encounters the Moors Murderer, Myra Hindley, in Risley remand centre in 1965. The brief meeting of these two young women, who are in some ways similar, resonates through Nicky’s story as an experience of the darkness into which a human life can descend and her own resolve, whatever she has faced, to make a different choice.
Left as a newborn in a box outside Stoke City Football ground, her grandparents took her into their home. But instead of finding a sanctuary, Nicky was subjected to horrific sexual abuse through her childhood. In 1951, when Nicky was six years old, her glamorous-looking estranged mother arrived on the doorstep to `rescue’ her and take her to London to live with her new family. But Nicky’s hopes of a safe and loving life were very soon smashed, and her world became darker still…

Nicky spent years as a homeless alcoholic, living on the street, in and out of prison before eventually finding a new way forward through her love of art.
Now an internationally renowned London artist, hers is a compelling story, carried along by her rare spirit of survival against the odds. This book tells the details of an extraordinary woman’s rise from the horror of a deeply damaging childhood to a new, creative and independent life. Her story is one of hope, for herself and for other abused children.

The book is due to be released in September 2018. Watch this space for more details!