We first opened our doors in 1958, and what began as a convenient facility soon became a thriving hub of social concern for our neighbourhood of Fitzrovia and beyond.
All Souls Clubhouse was founded by the Revd John R W Stott, then Rector of All Souls Church Langham Place, in response to the need to house a number of clubs for children living in the area. Originally a school, complete with sports hall, the facility proved ideal – once having undergone much needed renovation.
Under the leadership of the first ‘Warden’, the Revd Tom R Robinson, a wider vision began to develop, and soon a variety of different projects were running, serving all ages and seeking to meet wider needs in the community.
Still early on, some of the youth group leaders sparked the idea of establishing a worshipping congregation. This quickly became a Sunday fixture. In the years following, All Souls Clubhouse increasingly came to be seen by local residents as their local church; almost a parish within a parish.
We have sought to keep one eye fixed on the more vulnerable living in the community, and a commitment to meeting the most pressing social needs has guided what we have been most willing to attempt.
Over the years the projects here have benefitted enormously from countless numbers of dedicated volunteers, and from partnerships with the City of Westminster and various other charitable organisations engaged in similar work.
The facility itself has undergone successive upgrades, most recently in 2002. These improvements have enabled better delivery of existing programmes, and the introduction of new ones – providing us with a flexible base that allows us to adapt with changing seasons.
At the time All Souls Clubhouse was really “a very daring experiment”, Tom Robinson recalls. We are called to be no less daring at this time, nearly sixty years on.