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St. Mary's Rainbow Centre

Rainbow Money Rainbow CafeAbout the St. Mary's Rainbow Centre

The Rainbow Centre was set up in October 1997 as a direct response to a European Union (EU) survey of deprivation. The Castle Ward in Scarborough was identified by the survey as an area with significant needs and this prompted the congregation of the Parish Church of St Mary’s to pray and act.
Initial work was undertaken on a small scale with the establishment of practical support programmes based in Parish House. 
One of the early commitments was to independence and so the Centre started a Wellwisher scheme to raise finance and other support within the local community.

What work is St. Mary's Rainbow Centre doing now?

The Centre is now a diverse charitable social action project which focuses on three aims – to Support, Uplift & Encourage.  The work undertaken continues to be diverse -  with a fundamental focus on the practical.

Rainbow Money was established in September 2010 as a response to community need. This independent debt counselling and support service now supports over 60 families or individuals dealing with over £500k of debt.  The delivery of this support service is offered free of charge by fully trained volunteers.

The Rainbow Furniture Project collects donations of used but functional furniture and distributes these items around the Scarborough area.  Last year, over 600 deliveries were made, supporting those placed in new accommodation after being registered homeless.  This programme provides a vital resource to the community and also offers a positive work based placement to those looking to return to paid employment.

The Rainbow Community Café opens five days a week and recently was awarded a 5* rating from the local authority reflecting the quality of food and the cleanliness of the premises.  The café serves good, reasonably priced food and drink to the community and visitors to Scarborough. It also provides outside catering for church and other events.

The Wednesday Club is a social club supporting those living alone in the area – particularly those over the age of 55.  The club is a vital ‘link’ with community members who are on the fringes.  Wednesday Club is a vibrant opportunity for members to eat, chat and ‘connect’.

The Centre also provides support for over 200 clients a week through a managed programme which the Rainbow Client Support Co-ordinator handles.  A team of volunteers offer support and guidance to centre visitors on a number of social issues – particularly homelessness, substance abuse problems and a range of other issues.  Working in partnership plays an important role in the Centre’s work and we also connect with a number of local agencies .

Emergency clothing and food packs are provided on assessment and the Centre has received support from the Scarborough Cavaliers and Sainsburys who offer a homestart pack of basic goods to those moving into new accommodation.

Training and return to work placements are offered through the operation of the Centre and the project has been extremely successful in supporting those returning to the world of employment after struggling from substance misuse or recent imprisonment.  In 2014 the Centre was selected to run an EU Community Grant programme which supported 40 people back into the workplace or further learning. 

Providing meaningful support in difficult times

The last 12 months have seen an extraordinary change in our communities brought on by the dramatic failure of the financial system and the impact of recession.  The full impact of this change is yet to be seen but the effect on the poorer members of our communities has been profound.

The Centre has seen significantly more activity in the first half of 2015 than through the same period last year.  However the staff, volunteers and Trustees are committed to providing meaningful support through these difficult times. 

The Christian aspects of the practical work undertaken are clearly seen in the day to day support of the poor and isolated in the local community.  Help us to continue to offer faithful support, uplift and encouragement to those who need it the most – being the hands and smiles of Jesus in times of difficulty. To donate or to find out more visit

Reg Charity No: 1071090

Simon Watterson, Director, St Mary’s Rainbow Centre

The Archbishop of York has been Patron of St Mary’s Rainbow Centre since 2007.