St Helier Centre of Mission
South West London
Built as a garden city after the First World War, the St. Helier Estate in Sutton, South West London, is now recognised as having high levels of deprivation, unemployment, single parents, elderly people and people with long-term disabling illness. Large parts of the parish are among the 20% most deprived neighbourhoods in the country. Many residents are concerned about the levels of crime and poverty in the neighbourhood, which has risen over recent years. A lack of support on the St Helier Estate from relevant authorities has left its residents feeling powerless, especially now they are faced with rising costs of living, alongside unsafe housing conditions and health problems, which threaten the wellbeing of families and people living in the community.
The Centre of Mission, led by Evangelist Tracy Marlow, along with Pioneer Evangelists Hayley and Rachel, is focused on bringing Christian hope and life to this community. Since we launched the St. Helier Centre of Mission in 2021, in partnership with the Diocese of Southwark, the area has become a hive of activity where God is at work in the local community.
Meet Tracy Marlow
It is amazing what God is doing here in St. Helier. Some people are coming to faith and being baptised, new people are coming along to our Sunday service, and we have a community choir, which is growing beautifully. God is also enabling us to help people in the local community on a practical level, which is much needed. We have a café on a Wednesday, when staff from Sutton Council come along to help people with benefit and debt advice. Once a month, we have an NHS GP who comes and sits with people to discuss any medical needs they want to talk about. The police often attend to discuss some of the problems the estate has and how they can help. There is also a Zumba class, plus a parenting class led by someone from Children’s Services. God is with us in all of this and with the people who come to the café and classes.
The help we are making available on the estate is so valuable; it has enabled us to bridge gaps local residents face when trying to access help from service providers. Many people come to the Centre of Mission to access help, having felt overlooked and unheard by local services, but coming to us is where they feel safe.
One person who uses our services has been through a tough time. They have lost a lot of loved ones over the last few years and told us how much they were struggling and “just didn’t want to be here anymore.” But now they can see how God is working right where they are. They have now come to faith, along with some members of their family, and each day they want to be here. Other families are starting to do the same after seeing God work in their communities.
“Come and See”
Some of the residents who experience poverty may ask, “Where is God in all of this?” Or, “What does God do for me?” We are showing them on a practical level that God is here, with us, among it all. Our invitation is to “come and see”. That is why our Sunday service is called Come and See. It is a name that came from our new Christians who now go out onto the estate and tell others to come and see what God is doing.
Prayers in Focus
- Pray for the strengthening of community partnerships already in place.
- Pray for the team working to build youth and children’s work.
- Pray for opportunities to share the love of God at upcoming events
- at Easter and the King’s coronation.
- Pray for wisdom and creativity to reach those already engaging with the café, Zumba class and choir with the Good News of the gospel.
- Pray for protection and for the wellbeing of the team at St. Helier.