Our history as a Catholic charity

We were founded in 1860 as a Catholic charity by a priest, Father Daniel Gilbert, who was moved by the poverty he saw around him. He enlisted the help of an order of nuns, the Sisters of Mercy, and together they raised funds and found premises in East London which opened on to a narrow lane called Providence Row.

Over the last 150 years we have changed in many ways but we continue to value our Catholic roots and links with the church. The Sisters of Mercy have supported us tirelessly over the last 150 years and continue to volunteer and support us in so many ways.

A woman pouring tea in the kitchen
Sister Margaret volunteering with us in our kitchen

However some things have stayed the same. Just as in 1860, in the 21st century, people sleep rough, are destitute, live in chaos and in crisis in East London. We have remained rooted in this area, and our vision of a thriving community where anybody experiencing homelessness and exclusion can come for support also remains the same. Find out more about our mission and values.

You can read more about our journey from Catholic shelter to a charity tackling the root causes of homelessness, in London, in this leaflet about our history.