Spreading a little festive cheer to lonely people in Chorley
For many Christmas is a time for family, kisses under mistletoe and opening stocking presents around a fire.
But for many more celebrations can be out of the question financially or make feelings of loneliness even more stark.
So the community in Chorley is rallying round to make sure that there are enough free Christmas dinners on offer for anyone who might not otherwise have one.
At least three festive meals will be hosted in Chorley town centre on the day with St Laurence’s Church, Spanish tapas bar La Estrella and Pauline’s Angels opening their doors.
Becky Kelly, who is organising the drop in Christmas Day meal at St Laurence’s, said: “There are people who need hot food who don’t have access to it.
“It’s for people who miss out on everything that we have.“
Bees Country Kitchen in Chorley’s Covered Market is donating food for the two-course dinner.
Throughout the year St Laurence’s hosts a weekly meal each Monday catering for between 25-30 people.
The Open Table evening normally takes place 5.30pm until 6.30pm but for Christmas Day organisers are moving it forward 12pm to 1pm. Commenting on how the Open Table started Becky said: “Originally the idea was that it was for the homeless.”
As the Winter months drew in this year La Estrella in Bolton Street, opened up to homeless people on Sunday evenings.
Owner Sean Howe has now decided to close the restaurant to the public on Christmas Day, and is taking reservations from people who he feels need it more.
“We were going to open to the public on Christmas Day but we have decided to open to the homeless and people who don’t have any family instead, especially older people,” he said.
“I think people generally forget about the difficult situations other people might be in. It’s important that they aren’t isolated and that they have something to look forward to.
“We’re not sure if children will also be coming but we are possibly looking into getting some Christmas presents for the little ones.”
Sean has launched a £500 fundraiser to cover the cost of the traditional full Christmas dinner which will take place between 1pm and 4pm.
Pauline’s Angels are also hosting their annual Christmas Day lunch at Chorley Cricket Club from 12 until 3pm for those who would usually spend Christmas Day alone.
Meanwhile Chorley United Reformed Church is hosting its usual free evening meals on Thursdays over the festive period.
Homelessness and loneliness will also be on the agenda at Rivington Unitarian Chapel on Sunday, December 17.
The texts read from the Bible at the 2.15pm carol service will be focused around the issue.
Elsewhere volunteers at Chorley food bank have dished out over 800 Christmas hampers to people in need on top of their usual referrals.
Project manager Carol Halton issued a “huge thanks“ to members of the community in Chorley for their generous donations.
She said: “So many people have been in here donating food this Christmas; churches, businesses, the hospital, the council - everybody’s got together.
“We have been overwhelmed with the response to our community all working together. The food bank has brought all of the town together for a common purpose.“
To book a place at Pauline’s Angels Christmas lunch email [email protected]
To donate to the Christmas dinner at La Estrella see https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/laestrella?utm_id=63
Chorley Foodbank will close between Friday, December 22 and January 5. Chorley Help the Homeless is open 9am-12pm December 27-29.