The History of Hope

photos on a newspaper background

Looking Back Through The Years.

It is not an easy task to document the history of the Hope Centre, but it’s something we’d like to do in our birthday year. Many of the people who started the charity are no longer with us, add to that the lack of photographs taken or documents saved.

We do have some history we are familiar with, think and it’s a history important to share. The founding work of the Hope Centre was born through the compassion of just a few individuals, who dedicated their lives to helping others.

Michael Mulligan

We know that the soup kitchen had existed at least 15 years before the Hope Centre began as a charity. It began out of the compassion of a man called Michael Mulligan, from the kitchen of the Bishop’s house where Michael worked. We have also been told that it was seeing Irish migrant workers rough-sleeping on the Racecourse whilst building the MI, that caused Michael to want to help. Michael was eventually given a grant of £25 a week arranged by Councillor Alwyn Hargrave.

The early work of Michael in supporting people facing homeless in the town, laid the ground work for the establishment of NAASH, a night shelter was built, and the soup was offered the opportunity to provide a day facility, not just in the winter months but all year round.

Valarie Hanson (pictured above) ran the early soup kitchen with a handful of volunteers. Over the following years, the charity grew to 56 volunteers. From Monday to Saturday the soup kitchen served soup at 11.15 and sandwiches, scones or cake with as many cups of tea as they wanted. The soup was made with fresh vegetables and whatever else was available, not that far off what we provide today. On Sundays they provided a meal and for those that were rough-sleeping, they gave a packet of food to take away.

They also took food to those that were unable to come to the kitchen. For those in squats or poor accommodation they provided a carrier bag of tins of beans, soup, rice, fruit, all according to what facilities they had.

In the words of Valarie Hanson “We work from the principle that, if we do err, let it be on the side of generosity.”

And this was the birth of Hope.


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