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Catholic Life

Charity marks 25th anniversary

Hundreds of supporters attend anniversary Mass in Westminster Cathedral to mark 25 years of the Cardinal Hume Centre

By on Wednesday, 21 December 2011

John Mitchell with hostel residents past and present (Photo: Martha Clarke)

John Mitchell with hostel residents past and present (Photo: Martha Clarke)

Hundreds of supporters past and present, including members of Cardinal Basil Hume’s family, attended an anniversary Mass in Westminster Cathedral to mark 25 years of the Cardinal Hume Centre.

The centre was set up in 1986 by Cardinal Hume in response to seeing young homeless people sleeping on the streets around the Cathedral. It provided a safe place for them to stay and helped them to gain the skills they needed to get a good start in life.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the patron of the centre who celebrated the Mass, said: “Maybe the truest testament is from those who benefit from the Centre’s services and transform their lives.

“Over and over again we hear stories of how people take responsibility and transform their lives and it’s due to the work of the Centre.

“I am confident that the financial challenges of the present time will bring out the best in the Catholic community and that the Cardinal Hume Centre will stay at the forefront of an innovative, intelligent and well-marshalled response to those who at this time share an unequal burden of the economic difficulties we face.”

Among the congregation was a member of the original staff from the centre, John Mitchell, who ran outdoor activities for the young homeless people in the very early days.

John, who travelled from Nottingham for the event, said: “It’s good to see how things have progressed at the Centre since the early days; it has physically changed but the ethos still seems to be the same, to accept people for who they are and transform their lives. It’s about providing them with the support they need as individuals at a very problematic time of their life. We worked with some very, very damaged people who had no consistency in their lives and did our best to provide this.”

Today, Cardinal Hume’s legacy lives on, reaching out to some of the most marginalised people in society: young homeless people, families living in overcrowded accommodation, asylum seekers, recovering addicts and the unemployed. This year alone 1,350 people have benefited from its services.

Cathy Corcoran, chief executive of the centre, said: “We were delighted that so many people came along to join us in celebrating the marvellous legacy of Cardinal Hume.”