The coronation of King Charles III in Westminster Abbey, the first in Britain for 70 years, was celebrated in Great Britain on 6 May. To mark the occasion and emphasise the value of serving others, a voluntary initiative called the “Big Help Out” encouraged communities across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations to dedicate Monday 8 May (a public holiday in the UK) to voluntary work.
The Community of Sant’Egidio in London saw in the “Big Help Out” an opportunity to arrange a special event for our elderly and homeless friends who would not otherwise be invited to the street parties and community events happening elsewhere in London. Sant’Egidio’s contribution was an event called “Our Cup of High Tea”, held in the nave of the historic, and beautiful, St. Cuthbert’s Church in Earl’s Court in West London. This was a variation on our monthly meal with our friends, called “Our Cup of Tea”, marking the occasion with a festive afternoon tea - a staple of British celebrations commonly found in luxury hotels.
Our high tea included handmade sandwiches, fresh tea, cake and over 120 handmade scones. More than 40 volunteers came together to decorate the church with colourful bunting, balloons, and even a cardboard cut-out of King Charles III. Working together, they prepared and served food and provided entertainment and company to over 60 homeless and elderly guests. The event culminated in a toast to our shared community, which includes people from every corner of the UK, the Commonwealth and the wider world. One guest summed up the event perfectly, saying “We all felt like kings and queens.”
“Our Cup of High Tea” is one of several ways in which Sant’Egidio in London builds friendship with homeless, elderly, and marginalised people in the city. Many of the guests who came are individuals we have encountered in our weekly rounds of friendship, during which we provide food and conversation to people living on the streets, and at our regular monthly meal, “Our Cup of Tea”, in St. Cuthbert’s Church. In all of our efforts, we strive to be a family for those living in London, especially those who are overlooked or pushed to the margins. During the events of the coronation we felt no different: shared joy is the truest joy!