Since it first opened its doors in November 2023, NightChurchPZ has grown and grown.

The unique community is a mix of people including those living on the streets, people dependent on substances, some who have a travelling or transient lifestyle, older people, people suffering with mental ill health, holiday makers, and most recently, young families. Visitors come from all walks of life and the church is fully inclusive and proud of it.

While it started as a monthly Saturday night venture from 8pm to 3am (now to 1am), the church soon evolved to include NightChurch Wednesdays following the arrival of one particular visitor. Rhys Jones first came to NightChurch in January and immediately impressed those present with his piano playing skills. Learning that Rhys was homeless, NightChurch Coordinator Alice Phoenix felt Rhys should have access to the instrument and so NightChurch Wednesdays, which run from 6pm – 8pm, were born.

The NightChurch has grown into a strong community of people. There is a permanent volunteer team who are on hand for the Wednesdays and a core team plus extras for Saturdays. Alice says what is lovely is that the line between volunteer and visitor is now blurred with many attending regularly and feeling at home.

Those attending on Wednesdays listen to music, do puzzles and crafts, enjoy fruit, cake, biscuits, and cheese. The earlier timing means its more family-friendly and the NightChurch is working with children and family workers from St Mary’s Church in Penzance to encourage families.

Alice said: “Now that NightChurch is fully established and has a good reputation, we are comfortable, from a safeguarding perspective, to actively encourage families and children to visit.”

Safeguarding is something NightChurch takes seriously, and Alice has undertaken safeguarding leadership training with the diocese. Her duties have seen her heavily involved with the safeguarding of adults, working closely with Breadline, the police, and Adult Social Care.

The volunteers have also benefited from training by Breadline with the aim of orientating volunteers to some of the nuances of the causes and reality of homelessness. Alice has plans for another session which would be open to the wider church community.

Alice has also linked NightChurch with other organisations including GrowingLinks, the Street Food Project, Breadline and other churches including the Methodists, Catholics, and Salvation Army.

NightChurchPZ has a number of events coming up over the summer

Saturday, July 20: Family-friendly fundraising concert by Rhys Jones. When Rhys played Bohemian Rhapsody from memory at NightChurch and said we could pop it on our Facebook page, we had no idea it would go viral with over 11k views! Rhys wants to share his story, and the message that people living on the streets have inherent dignity and worth like all human beings. He wants to raise money at the concert for NightChurch.

Friday, August 16: Kids talent show at The Newlyn Centre. Collaboration between Family Workers and NightChurch Coordinator. Rhys has agreed to play.

Friday, August 30, (date TBC) – Fundraising Summer Fete, collaboration between NightChurch and Family Workers. At NightChurch we began talking about ‘Old school’ fetes of the 80’s; 10p to get in, guess the weight of the cake, number of sweets in the jar, name of the teddy, lucky dip – you get the picture! NightChurch and The Family Workers are collaborating to make this nostalgic memory a reality. It will be a fundraising event for Georgia’s Voice and Cancer Research, as requested by Molly’s families.

October 18 or November 8 – date TBC – ‘The Poetry Village’ comes to St Mary’s. The Poetry Village is a new project conceived by Sally Crabtree and Alice Phoenix. The Poetry Village is fully inclusive, and as such Sally and Alice will be working with people on the fringe, NightChurch, older people in care homes, schools and women’s groups to create poetic objets d’art which will be showcased at this event.