A successful outreach project connecting with local students has been running in St Patrick’s Parish, Ballymena, for six years.
The idea for student lunches, offering an ‘Open Space’ where students from North Regional College across the road from the church could come one day a week to ‘chill out’ and if they wanted talk about their issues and problems, originated with a former curate, the Rev Brian Lacey, now rector of St Peter’s, Belfast.
That was approximately six years ago and the student lunches are still going each Thursday during term time.
Funding for the lunches is provided by the volunteers who help each week and now, at the invitation of curate the Rev Iain Jamieson, parishioners have started to come along on a Thursday for a ‘bite and a drink’ and, perhaps the most important thing, a chat. No fee is charged, but parishioners and students are encouraged to make a small donation and in recent months the project has begun to show a small profit which is being channelled back into church funds.
Anyone in the area of the church on a Thursday between noon and 2pm is welcome to call in and have a freshly made toastie or sandwich and a cuppa.