Last week, Jon Cruddas MP’s team had the pleasure of meeting with the London Riverside Church in Parsloes Avenue, Dagenham. The London Riverside Church is a contemporary expression of church on the East side of London, who has served the Dagenham community since 1927. They are intentionally multigenerational and intercultural with over 40 nationalities calling the church their family home.
Whilst visiting the church, the team were able to meet with Megan Charles, who voluntarily oversees the Church’s foodbank services, otherwise known as “Store City”. Store City is designed to help those in the community who are in need. They take referrals from local agencies and try to do as much as they can to provide both the necessary food required as well as ongoing support for families who are facing difficulties.
Store City was built when the Church was refurbished. They have received donations from big names such as ASDA, Morrison’s, and the Co-op. They also receive many donations from the local community, including The Jo Richardson Community School.
Megan explained that her motivation to run Store City voluntarily and dedicate so much time to the cause comes from her desire to help and share God’s love, and her empathy for others. Store City has seen a huge increase in need since the start of the pandemic, but also a huge increase in donations and volunteers.
Lead pastor of the Church, Gowan Wheeler, is a firm believer that many individuals need more than just food, lots need some form of recovery too. He explained the importance of trying to give to those in need with dignity. He wants those utilising the services to feel they are being given “a hand up, not a handout”.
The Church also provides a baby bank. Their baby bank is one of many social action projects that is there to help families in the community. This voluntary service provides clothes and essentials for children aged new-born up to 7 years.
Included in part of the baby bank’s work, is “new-born baby hampers”. Other care hampers were distributed by the Church to care staff, nurses, and funeral directors at the beginning of the pandemic.
There are two pastors at the Church who are dedicated to young people. Reg Awoliyi is the Youth and Students Pastor. Abby Dada is the pastor for children.
The Church has an enormous outreach to the youth of Dagenham. They have groups suitable for all ages. They are passionate about seeing young people find, develop, and flourish their relationship with God, as well as providing a safe and happy local hub for young people in the community.
If you would like to get involved with the London Riverside Church’s Social Action campaigns, donate, or attend services and groups they offer, all information can be found on their website at: London Riverside Church | Greater London.