sister-jeanThe project began in 1989 as a House Group led by local Methodist Preacher Jean John, as a means of getting to know the needs of members within the church community, many of whom were lonely and isolated. The majority of members lived in areas of serious deprivation which caused enormous social pressures and as a result many had experienced some form of recurring illness caused by stress/depression leaving them unable to cope with everyday life. A sense of loss and isolation was felt by those hiding the fact that family members were in mental institutions and they lacked vital support. Jean realised that many stress related conditions came about because people of African/Caribbean origin suppressed their true feelings and a lack of trust in others meant they rarely discussed their problems.

In 1999, Jean received the Award of the Year from The Voice Newspaper for her work carried out in the community (see picture).

By opening up her home she created an opportunity whereby these barriers could be broken down and people helped to gain the necessary confidence to express their feelings and emotions through discussion, sharing past experiences and Christian fellowship.

The main outcomes expressed were:

  • Perceived deficiency in standard of community care services available
  • Lack of services sensitive to requirements of ethnic minorities recovering from crisis/illnesses

communityAs a result many have had to return to poor housing, remaining lonely, and isolated and feeling trapped in a recurring cycle of stress, depression and breakdown and repeated readmissions to hospital. The situation cried out for a day centre which would cater for their special mental and physical and spiritual needs.

An informal meeting of these people began to happen and within 3 months, 40 families of various nationalities were helped. Within six months the service had reached the housebound. The calls came not only from Hackney, but from other areas. Sister Jean John and a friend, Vera Holder, began reaching out to these people in their homes. Distance was no barrier they travelled miles to respond to the request for prayer and fellowship to those in distress. Miraculous transformation was seen in those who had come to the point of giving up on life. So dynamic was the change that it was noticeable by those who knew them previously. Having witnessed the changes enquiries were made, and a considerable amount of self referrals began to transpire.

christmasThe telephone then became a vital link as the word spread. This enabled the lonely, the isolated and sufferers of depression to call and find support. Funds for starting up came through a Gospel concert organised and produced by users and a few professionals.


In 1990 Wayside became a registered charity. In that year Wayside also moved to premises in Dunlace Road, Clapton E5.

The location of the day centre has changed over the years. In 1998 we moved to 24 Chatsworth Road and was there for 12 years. In April 2010 we moved across the road to 11 Chatsworth Road.

Over the years Wayside has gone through some hard times and had to fight for survival. However the times of hardships had enable us to demonstrate our ability to prioritise needs, utilise the skills of volunteers, and channel resources effectively so that the organisation could be sustained. Since then Wayside has progress to a well established and sort after organisation, and has grown tremendously.

  • Necessitating three moves to larger premises.
  • Works in partnership with the Statutory Sector such as the Local Authority and Social Services.
  • Provided employment to six people.
  • Built our capacity to achieve the Hackney Quality Standard Award.
  • Access funding from the Community Fund for a period of three years.
  • Supports underprivileged communities in ten countries abroad
  • Featured in several media publications including: –
    • The Voice newspaper
    • The medical journal (for research work undertaken by Student Doctors)
    • The City & East London Focus magazine(for promoting health among the church community)
    • The Shaftbury Report on the unique services Faith Communities deliver to the community
    • The Local Hackney Gazette (covering the award of the year for founder Jean John) 1998.