In 2008, a local Alcohol and Drugs Homeless project relocated outside of the Kingston Borough. With nowhere else to go an increasing amount of people started gathering in the gardens around St Peter's Church. There were soon over 40 regulars - we named them The Garden People. Revd. Peter Holmes, our Founder and Joel Community Services Chairman, eventually opened up St Peter's doors every Wednesday to provide meals and support to The Garden People. In 2009 St Peter's Church Hall began to be used as part of a network of temporary winter night shelters in local churches. Every week, local volunteers, businesses and charities would help us to deliver these services.
After working with the Garden People for several years, Peter Holmes came up with the vision of a permanent, monastic-style community for single homeless people at St Peter's Church. The Joel Community Trust, now known as Joel Community Services, was set up in 2010 to raise money for a permanent, purpose-built night shelter on the site of St Peter's for people experiencing homelessness, new offices for Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness as well as 'move-on' accomodation for guests requiring lighter support.
WHY ARE WE CALLED JOEL?
In the book of Joel in the Bible we read that a locust plague and draught had ravaged the land. When Joel warned them about even worse disasters coming, they turned their lives around. God promised to 'restore the years the locusts have eaten'. Joel 2:23-25.
"Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. “I will restore the years the locusts have eaten -"
The Christian Church has had a long history of offering hospitality and providing occupation for homeless people and this is exactly what we would like to do! We intend to provide our guests with a safe, warm place of healing and restoration.