The Warehouse Story
The Warehouse Trust was established out of a desire to actively participate in the transformation of poor communities in Cape Town, through church-based community development initiatives.
St John’s Parish is an association of six churches in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa. In 1999 the Parish took the step of appointing a full time “Ministry Among the Poor” Coordinator in order to bring together the wide range of community development initiatives already running within the parish. But The Warehouse vision was to gather resources and projects together under one roof, and to establish a physical presence in the poor communities that lie along the boundaries of the parish. In 2001, the parish became united towards this vision, and in 2002, The Warehouse was officially born. We functioned more informally at first, from a small office and a double garage at one of the parish churches. But by the end of 2003 the Warehouse was formally established as a separate non-profit trust, and in the beginning of 2004, we started operating from the independent Warehouse premises where we are today.
At first, the space we had was more than enough for the projects we were running. But over the next few years, our list of programs tripled in length, and as a community we just kept on growing. Boiling point came in May 2008 when South Africa was thrown into turmoil, and our local communities were being torn apart by xenophobic attacks on the immigrant populations of our city. The Warehouse had to respond immediately to this massive humanitarian crisis. Churches, both within and outside of the Warehouse network, needed resources urgently to be able to help refugees in their communities. Many of the Warehouse programs set aside their regular agendas to help with the relief effort, and The Warehouse was open 24/7 for the first five days of the crisis, acting as a donation and distribution centre, and as a referral point for refugees needing shelter.
It was around this time that we were looking to renew our lease, and having been totally overrun during the crisis, we were looking for a bigger place to call home. But just at the same time, the business operating out of the warehouse next door to us was needing to move out and up-size too. Right when we needed it, we were given the chance to smash through the wall and spread ourselves out, and we have continued to grow and fill out this space ever since.