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Tribute paid to ‘Mother Teresa of Birmingham’ in new CD on first anniversary

A new CD pays tribute to Sister Sabina of Sisters of Charity of St. Paul the Apostle, Selly Park one year after her death on 22 December 2019 at the age of 92.

Sister Sabina founded the charity Fireside and has helped the homeless in Birmingham for decades where she treated service users like her own family.

In a statement the charity SIFA Fireside said: “On 22nd December 2020, it will be one year since our dearly missed Sister Sabina passed away. Now more than ever we recognise the importance of all that Sister Sabina stood for and the incredible legacy of compassion she left.

“At a time when the importance of our community, family and friends is at the forefront of our minds, Stories by the Fireside is a short collection of treasured memories from our friends and community, recorded on a CD. They pay tribute to Sister Sabina and the permanent place she holds in our hearts.

“SIFA Fireside continues in Sister Sabina’s spirit living our values of being inclusive, courageous, supportive and dynamic in all that we do. We support approx. 3,500 people every year experiencing homelessness or at risk. SIFA Fireside is the primary service for adults over the age of 25 in Birmingham providing everything from crisis relief to long term recovery support.”

Originally from Limerick, Sister Sabina came to Northfield in 1951 where she joined the Sisters of Charity of St. Paul. She worked as a teacher before moving to Coventry 1959 where she was a headteacher for 33 years at Corpus Christi School before her retirement in 1992.

Upon her retirement she came to Birmingham and worked with the homeless alongside the late Sister Marie Howley. Their work first began providing homeless people with tea and a biscuit. The Sisters realised more funding was needed and decided they would develop a centre for the homeless.

Together they set up the charity Fireside in 1994 to provide homeless people within the city shelter and food with their ethos being ‘Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, so you do unto me’.

In 2007 Sister Sabina joined with SIFA (Supporting Independence from Alcohol) and SIFA Fireside was established. It costs approximately one million pounds a year to run the service which sees between 140 to 160 homeless and vulnerably housed people come through their doors every day. They provide practical support such as food, clothing and showers but also specialist services working with over 50 specialists in mental health, legal aid and housing.
They also provide homeless people with their postal address to send and receive letters which is crucial if they want to seek jobs, housing and benefits. Dogs are welcome in the building as they recognise that people may be more willing to seek help if they have the comfort of their companion.

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In 2009, Sister Sabina was recognised for her services in Birmingham and honoured with an MBE from the Queen.
She continued to visit SIFA Fireside weekly until her health deteriorated late last year.

Reporting by Annie Driver.

Stories by the Fireside is available from SIFA Fireside. You can get more information by calling 0121 766 1700 or clicking here

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