St Mary's Church in Bourne Street, London is an Anglo-Catholic church serving a small local parish and a diverse and loyal congregation. It was built in 1874 to serve the poor of Pimlico’s slums and in 1924 the church purchased and converted the neighbouring Pineapple Public House into a Presbytery.
Recent decades have seen considerable change in the area. There are fewer families living in the parish and more homes empty at the weekends, leading to fragmentations of the local community and growing loneliness and isolation amongst the older permanent population. Homelessness is increasing and beyond the immediate streets of the parish there is a real need for support.
In response to the need, St Mary’s has launched The Pineapple Project - with support from funders such as Benefact Trust - which will see the ground floor of the neighbouring Presbytery converted into a fully-accessible and modern community hall with accessible toilets and a kitchen. The first floor will keep its traditional charm and will remain as two separate rooms for hire by small groups and for use as one-to-one therapy/pastoral rooms. Finally, there will be a new corridor and accessible entrance that will link the church and hall.
The community hall will be a valued resource for local residents, who will be able to rent it for a variety of uses including yoga classes, children’s parties and tea groups. There will be regular lunch clubs and meet-ups, but also a range of therapeutic initiatives such as Music4Dementia, Singing for the Brain and Dance for Parkinson’s – keeping the church’s strong musical tradition alive.
The hall will be a hub for a programme of social action initiatives and community response. During lockdown the church organised food and clothing for people experiencing homelessness and delivered 250 meals a day at the height of the pandemic. The community facility will significantly increase the church’s ability to respond to crises when they arise.
The first phase of the project, which includes the building work, is due to be completed by December 2022. The second phase, which is the implementation of social action programmes, will follow after.
Chloe Ewen, Grants Officer for Benefact Trust, said: “We are delighted to support this innovative project which will bring a fractured community back together and support many older, isolated residents who are scared to leave their homes."
“The Pineapple Project will restore community spirit and give the church a base to host an array of social action projects, reaching beyond the streets of the parish."
“The new and improved facility will combine modern, accessible facilities with the traditional charm of the old Presbytery which houses many hidden gems. We can’t wait to visit and see the difference the new hall will make for the community.”