Punch & Judy plus cream teas go down well at Armley’s new Compassion Centre

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That's the way to do it! Volunteers Marta Vaczo (left) and Zsoka Antal (right) with their Punch & Judy puppets. Photo: Andy Dalton

By Andy Dalton

Dozens of people attended a new community resource in Armley for cream teas, a browse and a natter last Saturday afternoon.

They popped in to the Mission Room in Mistress Lane, Armley to enjoy a summer social occasion.

From lunchtime onwards people rolled up and tucked into a feast of good food. A pop-up charity shop session and book sale was organised at the same time.

Anthony Thomson serves a visitor from the food table. Photo: Andy Dalton

Tables and chairs were set out on the adjoining grassed area in Mistress Lane. People were able to eat and chat with friends old and new in the sunshine.

They were treated to a Punch & Judy show. Volunteers Marta Vaczo and Zsoka Antal presented a special show on a royal theme. They had made the dolls, a friend had written the script based on the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Much to the delight of everyone, they followed the story line of the missing royal sausages.

The afternoon was organised by Leeds City Mission. It was one of the Mission’s first public events as it brings its renovation project in the Mistress Lane premises to a conclusion.

Over the past two years volunteers have gutted and renovated the old Mission Room to create a Compassion Centre. In 2019 Leeds City Mission bought the premises from the Yorkshire Band of Hope Union. Volunteers have been renovating it to use as their a base for different activities and projects.

In addition to its worship and prayer facilities, it will host a range of social projects to meet needs in the community – including a foodbank, pop-up charity shop, counselling and practical help for those at the margins of life. 

Volunteer Chris White welcomes some of the visitors on grassed area in front of wall mural at the centre. Photo: Andy Dalton

Volunteers worked hard all week. They mowed the overgrown grassed area at the side of the Mission Room. Others were busy baking scones and obtaining the refreshments, as well as additional chairs and tables.

Co-ordinator Andy Dalton said that while there were some residual jobs to complete in the renovation they were now able to initiate and run a number of projects to help people at the margins. 

Andy said they hoped to hold an official civic opening ceremony once the remaining jobs have been completed. He added the volunteer team were very encouraged by the numbers who turned up for this summer social event.

Leeds City Mission is a Christian agency which has worked with marginalised people over three centuries and seeks to meet the physical, social and spiritual needs of Leeds residents. It was founded in 1837 and is one of the city’s oldest charities. 

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