Marks and Spencer churchy charity choice raises unholy doubts after Dalston opening

Marks©DA0418: Marks & Spencer E8 Foodhall manager Debbie Cunningham on opening day 110418 © david.altheer@gmail,com
Store manager Debbie Cunningham at the Foodhall opening. Why her name tag says “Nina” is not known
Josh©DA15: Rev Joshua Zvimba, vicar, St Mark’s church St Mark’s Rise Dalston Lon E8 2811015 © david.altheer@gmail.com
The Reverend Joshua Zvimba, vicar of the massive St Mark’s in Dalston

WHEN MARKS AND SPENCER returned to Dalston after decades away from Kingsland High Street, it decided to choose a charity partner that was local.

Big businesses often set aside money for charity or are able to help in another way. Often charities are invited to pitch to a staff-charity committee.  

No such beauty parade was held when Marks opened its Foodhall next to Kingsland station this spring.

Instead, the manager, Debbie Cunningham, simply asked staff for suggestions. The charity subsequently chosen, said the retailer’s press people after repeated Loving Dalston requests for details, was “St Mark’s Community Hall”.

They added: “The store will donate fresh food daily and other products weekly to the church, which will be used to create its regular Tuesday weekly community lunches with remaining products distributed via the church food bank to the community”.

Marks©DA0618: Marks and Spencer Foodhall 5 Kingsland Hi St 060618 © david.altheer[at]gmail.com
Next door to Dalston Kingsland station, the Foodhall is getting good footfall
Loving Dalston found no “St Mark’s Community Hall” on the charity register. But the nearby Anglican church ho

lds drop-in sessions on Tuesdays, which is presmably where the Foodhall gifts will be going (St Mark’s did not respond to this site’s request to comment).

St Mark’s charity is registered, with the proselytising name “The Parochial Church Council Of The Ecclesiastical Parish Of St Marks [Sic] Dalston”. Its mission statement is even more striking. The capitals are not Loving Dalston’s: 

ST. MARK WITH ST. BARTHOLOMEW IS A PARISH CHURCH, WHOSE AIM IS TO ALLOW JESUS LIVE IN US IN SUCH A WAY THAT OUR NEIGHBOURS EXPERIENCE HIS LOVE AND COME TO BE FRIENDS AND FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST TOO. AS A CHURCH, WE INTEND TO ENCOURAGE AND SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER IN LIVING HIS LIFE, FORGIVING ONE ANOTHER AND ENCOURAGING ONE ANOTHER TO FOLLOW HIM.

This is how the Foodhall is, in Cunningham’s words “working hard to become an integral part of the community”. 

StMarksign©18: food aid at St Mark’s Colvestone Cres Dalston E8 060718 © david.altheer[at]gmail.com
Weak aid at the E8 church hall once a week, for society’s weakest and neediest
St Marks shocked charity volunteers last year 2017 when it ended its weekend winter-night shelter. The church had been providing space for 16 stretchers for homeless people but vicar the Rev Joshua Zvimba decided his church needed a rest, although he gave no idea of how long the rest from helping rough sleepers would last. 

If Cunningham is still, as she says, “giving a lot of thought to the community initiatives we can support”, perhaps other local charities might deserve a bit more thought when the powerful store next doles out charity. 

David Altheer 070618

* Backstory: Pirates of Hackney to make their Marks with a ribbon; Boost for Dalston; From Dalston church boy to West End photographic fame

* Photographs © DavidAltheer@gmail.com, and for sale for reproduction. Bigger format versions are usually available.

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained. A link indicates neither approval nor disapproval by Loving Dalston.

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