Big question. Haggis, yes or no?
Regan, one of our Team Leads at the Overnight Welcome Centre, was shocked the other night when she realised people in Scotland actually ate haggis on a regular basis. I should probably state that Regan is actually from New Zealand where haggis isn’t a delicacy (WHAT?!). The reason we were discussing haggis on a Tuesday night in the OWC was because it was on the menu for the night – and it looked delicious!
One of the greatest changes we have been able to make this year is offering our guests a home-cooked meal. One that is filled with goodness and nutrients. Throughout the week this is prepared down at Crimea Street, packed in the transporter, and whisked away on the five-minute van journey to our hotel. We wait in anticipation to find out what is on the menu. (Regan’s fave meal so far has been Helen’s vegi coconut curry – definitely not haggis).
What a huge difference this added service makes for our guests. When we found out we were moving to a 24hr service we were really keen to incorporate a dinner service. Loneliness has been a huge struggle for so many people this year and we wanted to make sure we had a safe space for our guests to come out of their room and enjoy being around company in a Covid-safe way. It also gives us a chance to check in with our guests in a relaxed way, often sitting at another table having dinner too. My hope is that when someone enters our building they automatically know they are supported, valued and loved. Dinner helps with this and breaks down barriers. We are able to reflect Christ by offering a meal with no expectation of requiring anything from our guest.
We, Glasgow City Mission, are so thankful for the commitment of local churches in coming along and serving, just like the rest of our incredible volunteer team. Each week a different church provides us with two volunteers per evening and their job is to serve the dinner. It is like our very own restaurant with some major Covid-safe precautions. We have 12 tables, two metres apart, with one seat per table. It may seem drastic but it has been a drastic year, right? Two nights a week, ‘Healing for the Heart’ [LINK] come in and spend the time in our dining room ready to listen when a guest wants to talk. I believe that this service is vital and important and we are so grateful the hotel allowed us to use the space for this purpose.
Hospitality is embedded in our faith. Straight away in Acts we see that the disciples would meet together and eat together (Acts 2:42). It was part of their routine and it’s a routine a lot of people are longing for just now. We are also created to carry each other’s burdens (Gal 6:2). We listen to our guests and offer support, this space provides us with these opportunities. We are created for loving each other (John 15:12). We are created to experience community (Heb 10:25). That’s why this year has been so tough for many, we have missed community. We have missed each other.
As we look forward to coming through the pandemic, let’s not take for granted community and relationships. Let’s take the lessons we are currently learning and apply them to our lives. A pandemic changes the way we work and think and I know that next year I want to take forward the lessons we have learned about the importance of a dinner service for our guests at the OWC. My final thought, Helen – please put the vegi coconut curry back on the menu!
Overnight Welcome Centre Manager