No one should be alone on Christmas Day. In this week’s Big Issue magazine – our Christmas cracker – we rounded up a selection of outstandingly generous people across Britain who are throwing open their doors to ensure the homeless, the lonely and the vulnerable get to feel the warmth of the season.
But we know this is just a small selection of the wonderful acts of kindness up and down the country that we want to highlight. No doubt you’ll know of many others in your local area. Get in touch and tell us about the places that have warmed your cockles with their kindness and we’ll share them and add them to the list below.
HEARTS AND HIBS FOOTBALL CLUBS
Tynecastle Stadium and Easter Road Stadium, Edinburgh
Edinburgh football teams Hearts and Hibs don’t see eye-to-eye on much, but the need to extend a welcome to less fortunate members of their respective communities at Christmas is something they both definitely agree upon. The clubs will open their stadiums on Christmas Day to serve free meals and festive cheer, with supplies donated by local Tesco stores.
Big-hearted staff and volunteers at Glasgow café Emmi’s Diner have vowed to keep working as long as it takes on Christmas Day to make sure that every homeless or vulnerable person who comes through their door has been fed a roast dinner. “Some people have too much, others have too little and it’s time to give back,” says owner Jamie Kelly.
JOLLYTOTS & COOKIES PLAY CAFÉ
For a third year running Jollytots & Cookies Play Cafe in Uddingston will be open on Christmas Day to “welcome those who need some TLC somewhere warm and happy,” be they elderly, depressed, lonely or homeless. Thanks to generous donations from people in the local community and beyond, they’ll provide free three course meals, food hampers, gifts, entertainment, hairdressing and beauty treatments to guests. There’s still time to donate more at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jollytotschristmaslunch
NATHAN SNODDON’S MICHELIN STAR-STANDARD POP-UP RESTAURANT FOR THE HOMELESS
In the new year Nathan Snoddon from Lisburn in Northern Ireland is set to become a Chef de Partie at a new London restaurant owned by Michelin-starred chef Ollie Dabbous. Before that, he’s setting up a pop-up kitchen in central Belfast on December 21 to prepare Michelin star-standard meals for around 150 homeless people.
FREE CARE HOME STAYS FOR LONELY OLDER PEOPLE AT CHRISTMAS WITH ABBEYFIELD SOCIETY
Properties UK wide
As part of their annual Companionship at Christmas campaign, care homes belonging to Abbeyfield Society will open their doors for six weeks to provide free overnight stays, meals and entertainment for people affected by loneliness. You can help out too by volunteering or donating. Find out more at abbeyfield.com
THE COMMUNITY CHRISTMAS DINNER
A social action project assisting the elderly and vulnerable and people who are struggling to manage financially in the Greater Manchester area, The Community Christmas Dinner is the brainchild of chef Natalie Jane Lek (picutred) – with the help of volunteers – to cook a free festive meal for up to 1,000 people. You can get behind by donating at: gofundme.com/thecommunitychristmasdinner
FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER
Broadhurst Park Stadium, Manchester
Fan-owned National League football club FC United of Manchester will once again open up facilities at their stadium in north Manchester to those in need on Christmas Day with toiletries, towels, showers, cooked breakfasts and entertainment laid on free of charge. Buses – funded and driven by a FC United supporter – will run from Manchester city centre to the stadium. The club are also appealing for donations of tinned food, toys and warm clothing for distribution to people in need.
LOSTOCK LODGE CARE HOME
“Nobody elderly should be alone at Christmas!” say Lostock Lodge in Cheshire, so they’re inviting any elderly people in the area who are facing a lonely December 25 this year to book in for a free three-course dinner together with great company.
TOWN HALL TAVERN
Around 60 homeless and vulnerable people will enjoy a meal and live music at this Manchester city centre pub on Christmas Day. Staff would also like to give their guests a gift of something extra to keep them warm through the rest of the winter, so are offering their regular customers a free pint in exchange for donations of old coats and sleeping bags.
PEARL CITY TAKEAWAY
On Christmas Day this Staffordshire Chinese and Cantonese takeaway is offering free Christmas meals to vulnerable, elderly and homeless people. If you know anyone in the area who meets this criteria, you can nominate them on the restaurant’s website: pearlcitycannock.co.uk
A Turkish restaurant in Leicester is offering free food to homeless and elderly people at Christmas so that “no one eats alone”. Motivated by his own experiences of homelessness when he first moved to the UK, owner Mehmet Aydin will serve a three-course meal for all and hopes his offer will inspire people to “care for each other no matter what religion, race, culture or language we speak”.
The Griddle Café in Clydach will be providing free Christmas dinners on December 25 to anyone who might need one – be they elderly, homeless or vulnerable people, single parents or emergency-services workers on duty. They’ll also lay on entertainment, bingo and a film screening, plus pick-ups and drop offs or home delivery where required within a five-mile radius.
The Big Issue has inspired the launch of 120 street papers globally, including sister titles in Australia, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan and Korea.
LONDON AND SOUTH
ST MUNGO’S/STREETS KITCHEN
London Euston Station
The busy transport hub may be closed to commuters on Christmas Day, but it will still be full of life. It will open up to 200 homeless people sleeping on the UK capital’s streets, with the St Mungo’s and Streets Kitchen charities, helped by 30 station staff, providing dinner and company.
£3 MEALS FOR THE STREET HOMELESS
On Saturday, December 23 fundraiser Adam Field and his friends will walk around the streets of London distributing as many £3 meal deals as they possibly can to the homeless, to warm them on a cold night. They’re raising funds to feed around 100 or more people in total, and you can help them by donating at gofundme.com/fh4bw-food-for-the-homeless
Turkish restaurant Bogaz is inviting any lonely elderly residents of Chelmsford to visit them on Christmas Day for company, conversation and a free traditional Turkish meal. One of the owners of the family-run business, Sabiha Gelmen, comments: “I appreciate it is Christmas time, for where families get together, share and make memories and have a lovely meal. It’s for a few hours just to make them feel loved, it’s just a good thing to do.”
CROWN AND ANCHOR
Senior citizens who would otherwise be alone can head down to the Crown and Anchor pub in Bromley for a free turkey dinner. They can also expect the Queen’s Speech to be shown, and servings of Christmas pudding, mince pies, tea or coffee and a glass of sherry. There are limited places so call ahead to book.
“Free turkey dinner and a pint on Christmas Day for anyone who is on their own. No strings, catches or nonsense,” is how publicans Mick and Sarah Dore describe their simple generous offer to customers old and new. They’ve thrown open their doors to anyone who needs a bit of company and a good meal at Christmas for a few years now, and it gets more popular all the time. Other businesses and individuals get in the spirit too by donating them food and money to help. “I just absolutely love doing it,” says Mick. “It’s my favourite day of the year.”
CUMMIN’ UP CARIBBEAN CAFE
London and Brighton
“Yes by God’s grace we shall be offering a traditional dinner Christmas day!” say Cummin’ Up Caribbean cafe, who will provide a free meal this December 25 at their premises in London and Brighton to anyone facing the prospect of dining alone, or would just like someone to talk to. Volunteers are encouraged to come and help out. “Share the love,” say Cummin’ Up, “speak to someone in the hostel, park bench, elderly home, cab driver or emergency servicemen and women who might be working that day.”
FREE LUNCH FOR THE ELDERLY AT ST MICHAEL’S CHURCH HALL
The charity Community Christmas are hosting a lunch on Christmas Day for approximately 40 elderly Bexhill residents who would otherwise be alone. There is no charge for the lunch but guests can make a donation to the charity if they so wish. Transport will be provided. Donations, including food items, are welcome.
For a third year in a row, Raj Odedra, owner of the Kirribilli Guesthouse, will throw open his doors from 1pm on Christmas Day to serve free food and festive cheer to the homeless of Newquay. The community has rallied around him by raising more than £1,000 to help out. Raj will now not only be able to offer a hearty meal to his guests, but also gift them new warm weather gear and sleeping bags to take away with them.