SCT’s former Chair shares Crypt memories

In this article John Bryce Pope -our former night warden and ex-Chair of Trustees - remembers the early days of SCT in the Crypt at Christ Church Spitalfields, where we first started helping homeless alcoholics around East London.

“SCT’s work in the first year proved daunting – not least because of the sheer numbers of homeless addicted men who sought help. As a totally new work seeking not just to offer a bed/food there were teething problems.

It was soon learnt that to attempt to accommodate up to 50 men just did not work.

"Often the men who came in were in a dirty desperate condition. The outward transformation after a few days of being well fed and a few good nights undisturbed sleep was remarkable."

Also it became apparent that a firm abstinence policy was essential. Often the men who came in were in a dirty desperate condition.

The outward transformation after a few days of being well fed and a few good nights undisturbed sleep was remarkable. However the really hard work now started to help these men face up to the reality of their situation.

The Revd. Dennis Downham, who had been thrilled by the interest and support obtained in the first year, issued the first of well produced Newsletters to keep supporters, prayer partners and all interested parties informed.

"I enjoyed that first meeting with residents as we had a fantastic evening cheering on Glasgow Celtic who beat Inter Milan to be the first British Side to win the European Cup. A stupendous achievement"

It was on the 25th May 1967 that I stepped into the Crypt with much trepidation. I had made a commitment to follow Christ in Feb 1966 and had been invited by Jack Ince (who I had met at St Helens Church Bishopsgate) to consider becoming a “Night Man”. This enabled staff to get home but to ensure care 24/7 for the men.

I enjoyed that first meeting with residents as we had a fantastic evening cheering on Glasgow Celtic who beat Inter Milan to be the first British Side to win the European Cup. A stupendous achievement. Even Glasgow Rangers supporters gave their grudging approval!

I was a regular “Night Man” up to my marrying Jill in Oct 1969.

Captain Paul Deeming had joined Captain Ronnie Rourke and links were established with Bethnal Green Medical Mission as well as with the local Dept. of Health and Social Services.

"...the men in residence had the stimulus of meeting folk of all backgrounds who accepted them unconditionally."

Many volunteers from the local Hospitals Christian Unions as well as folk from the Parish of Christ Spitalfields became involved in different capacities.

This ensured friendship was offered and the men in residence had the stimulus of meeting folk of all backgrounds who accepted them unconditionally.

Such non – judgemental attitudes helped the men to consider fresh the possibility of receiving the love of God.”

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