The work was begun in the early 1990s by the late Walter Wilkinson, a Minister of the Independent Methodist Connexion of Churches. Walter, with the support of his wife Anne, felt called to be of practical help to the homeless in Newcastle upon Tyne. Initially, they made sandwiches and, using their car, went to the areas of the city where they knew there to be a problem of homelessness, serving the sandwiches and drinks from the boot and sharing their faith, in doing so, "showing God’s love in action” a phrase which encapsulated their mission. Their daughters took an active part in this work. Many people can attest to the loving concern which they offered as a family team.
Walter felt that the problem needed a more wide ranging solution than the provision of food and a listening ear. A born salesman, Walter was able to arrange to rent a suitable property in Stockton on Tees and a hostel, named Holly House, was established and run by him. This provided secure short term accommodation for young, homeless men, many of whom had problems in their lives, who could then be given a breathing space to sort out their problems in a caring and supportive environment. At that time, the work became a Charitable Trust, which was supported by the kind offices of a number of Charitable Trusts and Foundations. Three part time employees carried out street work and the work in the hostel. The work of the Trust was supported by many of the Churches of the Independent Methodist Connexion and by Churches of other denominations and by individuals.
Sadly, Walter’s health was not good and, in 2001, he died. Following Walter’s death there were serious problems in running Holly House and, after very careful consideration, it was decided that the efforts of the Trust be concentrated on street work. Once it was ensured that the residents had suitable alternative accommodation, the hostel was closed.
The current situation is that we run five kitchens each week from our adapted vehicle in Middlesbrough and Stockton on Tees and two weekly kitchens in Newcastle, one in a church hall and the other in a car park. It is a current priority to find a suitable means of towing our catering trailer to this location. We have two excellent part time employees who view their work as a calling and a small band of dedicated, caring and empathetic volunteers.
We have a small, but solid, basis of support and would be more than happy to welcome your support both in manpower and in materials so that we are able to continue this important and essential work, which was so dear to Walter’s heart.