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Activism

Room at the inn: good people doing good this Christmas

This Christmas Day, many community hubs and businesses across Britain will open their doors to locals who may have nowhere to go. Here are a few of them. Tell us about more and we’ll spread the word…


This Christmas Day, restaurants, barbers, football stadiums and mosques across Britain will do something they don’t normally do. They will open their doors so that people in their local area who are not part of the great Christmas jamboree have somewhere to go. The lonely, struggling families, the homeless and those on society’s margins will be welcomed. From a holiday park in Scotland offering free family breaks with food included, to a dominatrix in Hull offering tea and buns on December 25, there are people and organisations going way above and beyond. We wanted to highlight just a few, and to salute those doing something special to bring a little light this festive season.

FC United of Manchester, Broadhurst Park Stadium, Manchester

National League football club FC United of Manchester opens up their stadium to those in need on Christmas Day, with free toiletries, towels, showers and a “hearty cooked breakfast”. Buses, funded and driven by FC United fans, run from the city centre to the stadium. The club is appealing for volunteers to get involved and help provide Christmas comforts to those in need.

Shish Restaurant, Sidcup, London

The restaurant is offering three-course meals to homeless and elderly people on Christmas Day so “no one eats alone”. Spreading the word with posters and social media posts, they say: “We are here to sit with you”. The meal is available between noon and 6pm on December 25.

I don’t want a pat on the back. People do this kind of thing all year round

The Old Nags Head Pub, Manchester

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The pub will open on Christmas Day to serve free food and drinks and hand out clothes to homeless people. Licensee Sean Brett and staff will forgo Christmas but he says: “I don’t want a pat on the back. People do this kind of thing all year round.”

Marylou’s Café, Chelmsford

Marylou Lowe will open her cafe for elderly, lonely, homeless and struggling families on Christmas Day, treating them to a free three-course meal. Transport can be provided and they will deliver meals to elderly folk who’d rather stay at home.

Chilli Pink, Rhyl

The restaurant is serving Indian food, kebabs and pizza to homeless, elderly and vulnerable people on Christmas Day. It will also be a drop-off point for clothing, blankets or food. “Everyone has problems but we should all be able to forget them for one day,” says owner Akeel Shakeel Aslam.

Hibernian FC, Easter Road Stadium, Edinburgh

The football club welcomes 250 vulnerable and underprivileged people to its stadium for a “happy, delicious and fun-filled Christmas lunch”. Caroling and a film screening are also planned.

Sam Lounds, Davie Masonic Hall, Plymouth

A graduate from Jamie Olver’s Fifteen Cornwall, Sam Lounds will cook free Christmas dinner for fam-ilies, older people and those who would otherwise spend the day alone. He plans to cook for 60 or 70 but is “more than happy for people to just stop by for a coffee and a chat or spend the afternoon”.

Rosie Lee Café, Dagenham

On December 23, Rosie Boyaci will offer a free festive meal for elderly people who otherwise face the festive season alone. “This time of year should be about people coming together to
celebrate and care for each other,” she says.

Lord Nelson Pub, Derby

The pub will offer homeless and underprivileged people of Derby free food and alcohol-free mulled wine on Christmas Day. Staff will donate their time for free, and are inviting members of the public to donate money as well as unwanted clothes and toiletries.

Birmingham Central Mosque, Birmingham

The mosque is running a soup kitchen every day from 5pm-6pm from December 24 to January 1. It is organised by Kasim Choudhry, who says: “It is intended that a permanent soup kitchen will be set up within the mosque grounds to serve the local community, regardless of religion and race.”

The Alexandra Pub, Wimbledon, London

Pub managers Sarah and Mick Dore have raised £2,500 in donations from their regulars to fund a free roast dinner for people who are facing spending Christmas Day alone. “There are far too many people spending Christmas alone,” says Sarah, “so this is a little thing we can do to make people happier and brighter.”

Malatso Cafe Marquee, Paisley

Café boss Jen McKay will erect a marquee in Paisley High Street on Christmas Day to host a free dinner for those who can’t afford a meal or have no-one to celebrate with. Since news of her initiative went viral on social media, 400 people got in touch to volunteer to help and she’s received donations from America and Australia.

The Pavilion Café, Ashton Gardens, Lytham St Annes

Opening on Christmas Day between midday and 3pm “for anyone stuck on their own for Christmas day, as a couple or just by themselves”, they are hosting a Bring Your Own Food get-together, free of charge, for anyone dreading a day missing their friends, family or home.

Dope Burger, Hull

“Please don’t hesitate to send anyone our way who could do with someone to be there for them on Christmas Day,” says Oliver Johnson, owner of this burger bar, which opens its doors to those living on the streets from 10am to noon on December 25, providing a free hearty meal, hot drinks, mince pies, scarves, hats and gloves.

Everyone has problems but we should all be able to forget them for one day

Moffat Manor Holiday Park, Dumfries and Galloway and Perthshire

Homeless people or those who rely on food parcels are offered a Christmas getaway by this caravan holiday park in Dumfries and Galloway and Perthshire. They can stay for free between December 20-27, with meals and entertainment included. “We want them to have a memory that will last,” maintain bosses at Moffat Manor
Holiday Park.

Cummin Up Caribbean, Lewisham, London

In their annual “Christmas Day love offering”, this London Caribbean restaurant lays on a free meal for anyone who faces the prospect of dining alone, or would just like someone to talk to.

Infusions Café Bistro, Burscough, West Lancashire

The bistro will serve a free three-course Christmas dinner on December 22 and 23, thanks to the “overwhelming generosity” of local people. “Nobody should be lonely at this time of year, and nobody should go without,” says Craig Walsh.

Lish mans room Barbers, Newcastle upon Tyne

On Christmas Eve between midday and 3pm, Lish Mans are offering a hair wash, a free haircut and free food and warm drinks for the homeless.

Kirribilli Guest house, Newquay

For a second year, Raj Odedra owner of Kirribilli Guesthouse, throws open his doors from 1pm on Christmas Day to serve free food and festive cheer to the homeless of Newquay. Tables will be decked with hats and crackers, music, mince pies and there’s a small Secret Santa gift. “It’s cold and these people have nothing to eat,” says Odedra, “Christmas is a time where everyone gets together.”

Since news of her initiative went viral on social media, 400 people got in touch to volunteer to help

Yummy’s Scouse Christmas, various locations, around Liverpool

Ex-homeless man Simon Whitter will cook dinner for up to 300 homeless and isolated folk on Christmas Day. Last year he made breakfast for 170 on Christmas Day, now he wants to top that, after raising more than £2500 through a JustGiving campaign. He will also hand out selection boxes to kids and bags of essentials to the homeless.

TY-8 Restaurant, Margate

Father John Taylor has donated nearly £500 and teamed up with TY-8 Restaurant in Margate to provide hot food and a festive gift to those who have nowhere to go on Christmas Day, open to people of all faiths who are homeless or lonely.

Take A Break Café, Hull

Julie Preston (aka dominatrix Mistress Dita) is organising a Christmas Day meal and gathering for people who are homeless, lonely or hard-up. Tea and buns are served from 10am to 2.30pm, Christmas dinner from 12.30-2.30pm. There will also be free haircuts from 10am to 12pm.

We want to celebrate more great people. If you know of something happening in your area tell us and we’ll spread the word: Tweet us @BigIssue; Find us on Facebook here; or email editorial@bigissue.com

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