The Webber Street day centre has had its doors open to people living on the streets in the Waterloo area since 1962.
From the very beginning, sharing eternal hope in Christ has gone hand-in-hand with practical support for men and women who are homeless.
In 1936 a young student at London University – Ernest Walton Lewsey – noticed a pile of rags in a doorway as he walked along the embankment. He was amazed to find a woman huddling under the rags to keep warm.
Ernest got her a mug of tea and buns and told her about God’s love for her. “Are you a minister?” she asked. “You’d be a good one!”
That was the start of God’s call to Ernest to minister to people who are homeless in London. He soon gathered a group of Christian friends to serve tea and sandwiches to those living rough on the embankment.
Later, they used a van with kitchen facilities and a let-down counter at the side for food, and enquirers could come for counselling.
They named themselves the London Embankment Mission.
During the war, services were held under the railway arches amid the bombing. Many men were brought out of the depths of destitution to remarkable conversion.
As the mission grew, the London Embankment Mission started to look for a property, and in 1962 acquired a disused men’s mission hall in Webber Street, near the Old Vic theatre.
The basement had space for a chapel and cafeteria while upstairs, offices and storeroom were accommodated.
The London Embankment Mission merged with London City Mission in the 1990s and Ernest’s vision to offer practical Christlike care and hope to people who are living on the streets continues to this day.