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Southwark night shelter features in Archbishop’s New Year message

London SE1 website team

Volunteers and guests at the Robes Project - a winter night shelter for homeless people in Lambeth and Southwark - featured in Rowan Williams' final New Year message as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Dr Rowan Williams, who retired as Archbishop at the end of last year, filmed his annual televised New Year message at Lambeth Palace, Christ Church Southwark and the Salmon Youth Centre in Bermondsey.

He took volunteering – a "silent conspiracy of generous dedication" – as his theme and spoke about the example set by the Olympic volunteers.

The Archbishop visited the John Marshall Hall at Christ Church Southwark in mid-December where he helped to serve breakfast to guests at the winter night shelter.

"Here at the Robes Project, over twenty local churches are combining to offer food and shelter to homeless people in London," said the Archbishop.

"Religion here isn't a social problem or an old-fashioned embarrassment, it's a wellspring of energy and a source of life-giving vision for how people should be regarded and treated.

"So let's recognise this steady current of generosity that underlies so much of our life together in this country and indeed worldwide.

It's all based on one vision – to make our society, our whole world, work for everyone, not just the comfortable and well off.

"And it's a vision that sometimes seems to need Olympic levels of patient hard work and dedication."

The Robes Project was launched nearly six years ago by churches from a range of denominations to provide food and shelter to rough sleepers in Southwark and Lambeth during the coldest months of the year.

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