Pat's Soup Run Still Running After 37 Years Of Ministry

"Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me"

News December 19, 2023

20 December  2023 | St. Albans UK [David Neal with June Coombs]

It was during 1985 that the then Stanborough Park, Watford UK youth decided that being a spectator in church life was not enough. Motivated by a Spirit-led prompting to become participants through making  their Christian faith practical, they launched what became known as the ‘Soup Run’ by year-end. Jonathan Barrett, their pastor, discovered a need in central London – homeless people, and rough sleepers. With his can-do mindset and supported by the then youth leader Pat Walton and with a couple of teens of her own, the Soup Run was launched.

Volunteers preparing for the Soup Run
From left to right: Timothy Runji, Nawal Houghton and Ligia Buzac with Pat Walton making final preparations for the Friday evening Soup Run.

That was 1985. If you are reading this article on Friday 22 December 2023, getting close to thirty-eight years later, there will still be a ‘Soup Run’ from Watford to London tonight! A ministry of Stanborough Park Church, the ‘Soup Run’ runs without funding other than voluntary contributions, surviving as it does on with goodwill and many volunteers. While the Soup Run means a lot for Pat as co-ordinator, the weekly run is still very much run by the youth of the church. At the regular central London location, food, soup, drinks, supplies to meet basic needs and clothing are provided, where a regular clientele wait for the arrival of the minibus each week.

The current challenge is to retire the faithful old mini-bus which needs replacing because it has an old diesel engine no longer regarded as envirnomentally friendly. The result is that for every trip into Central London, a £12.50 fee is incurred. With each trip operating on a financial shoestring, it is a cost the team can ill afford, so the time has arrived to replace it and purchase an eco-friendly model.

A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to catch up with Pat, still full of energy and brimming with enthusiasm and compassion to support those hungry and with nowhere to sleep. It was good to hear the back story of the Soup Run’s why and how. It was stirring to be reminded of the commitment to extend love to those society regards as the least.

 

‘Master, what are you talking about?

When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink?

And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’

Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth:

Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:40 (The Message)

 


Good Conversation with Pat Walton was produced by tedNEWS in collaboration with Sam Davies of BUC News, filmed and edited by Kofi Osei-Owusu of the BUC Media Centre. Thanks to Stanborough Park church for permission to film on location.

Reference in the interview is made to local Soup Run participants:

  • The late Les Dean was a Stanborough Park member who had a great ability to connect and ‘listen’ to those the Soup Run serves.
  • Norma Lewis has supported Stanborough Park Welfare and the Soup Run for many years.
  • Katrina Walker is an elder of the nearby Hemel Hemstead church.

 

 

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