St Martin’s Church, Gospel Oak, welcomed local MP, Sir Keir Starmer, as he met with clergy and local volunteers responsible for running a range of community projects across Camden and North London.

Sir Keir was joined by the Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, to discuss the vital work being carried out by churches alongside local organisations to support those most in need, particularly during the winter period.

Mother Carol Barrett Ford, Vicar of St Martin’s Church and Area Dean of Camden, hosted the visit with Mother Olyve Johnson from the clergy team, speaking about the many ways in which the church is engaged with the needs of the local community.

Fr Michael Thomas, Vicar, St Michael’s Church, spoke of the work his church is doing in combating loneliness during the Christmas period with Jane Saxton, who provides legal support at a drop-in centre. Archdeacon of Hampstead, the Ven John Hawkins, the Revd Prebendary Dr Amatu Oñundu Christian-Iwuagwu, Area Director of Mission, and Mthr Sally Jones, Vicar of St Mary Magdalene Munster Square, also joined the discussion, providing a snapshot for Sir Keir of the 1500+ Compassionate Communities projects being run across the Diocese of London.

Representatives of local organisations in attendance included Tom Pickering from youth charity XLP, and Livia Paggi, from Queen’s Crescent Community Association. They discussed with Sir Keir the issues they regularly see impacting the local community, including the cost of living and youth violence, illustrating how they work with Diocesan churches to support residents with these numerous challenges.

Bishop of London, the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE, said:

“We hugely value our relationships and partnerships with each of London’s MPs. It was a pleasure to welcome Sir Keir to St Martin’s Gospel Oak and hear from some of those at the front-line of helping those in their communities who need it the most.

“Across the Diocese of London, volunteers and clergy members work so hard to address the challenges people face, ranging from supporting refugees and providing food-banks, to organising local community projects and initiatives for everyone, from the young to older people.

“As we approach Christmas, we are reminded of the love shown by Jesus, and I hope that the work being done across churches in London inspires kindness and generosity during this festive period.”

The Rt Hon Sir Keir Starmer MP added:

“It was great to meet some of the voluntary organisations in my constituency and thank them for everything they do.”