Diocese of Portsmouth

    Churches will help the homeless and lonely this Christmas

    19 Dec. 2018

    GENEROUS worshippers across our region are helping those who are homeless, lonely or in need over Christmas.

    They’ll be offering to cook Christmas lunch for those who would otherwise be on their own, or handing over gift vouchers to help vulnerable families buy Christmas gifts.

    Churchgoers have been donating £5 gift vouchers to the annual Christmas campaign run by Churches Homeless Action to help the homeless, vulnerable families and asylum seekers.

    More than £10,000-worth of vouchers have been donated. They’ll be presented to agencies who work with vulnerable people at a special carol service in St Mary’s Church, Fratton, at 12noon on Friday (December 21).

    Those agencies, which include Havant Women’s Aid, St Simon’s Church in Southsea, Friends Without Borders, the Society of St James and Southern Domestic Abuse Service, will pass on vouchers to individuals they work with – those sleeping on the streets or in homeless hostels, the victims of domestic abuse, and those who have escaped from conflict in other countries to claim asylum here.

    These people may not have received any Christmas presents this year. Being given a voucher gives them the dignity of being able to buy something they really need – or perhaps buy a gift for their children or loved ones.

    Many of those who donate £5 vouchers also write a Christmas card to the person who will receive it. The campaign has been running every Christmas since 2003.

    Churchgoers at St Margaret’s Community Church in Southsea will be serving a Christmas banquet for those who are homeless on Thursday (December 20) from 6pm. The event will also involve Head Hairdressing, a local barber’s shop on Albert Road, offering haircuts for the homeless during the evening.

    Worshippers at St Faith’s Church, Lee-on-Solent, will offer a full Christmas lunch in the church for those who would otherwise have been on their own that day. The lunch happens between 11.30am and 2pm on Christmas Day, and there’s even transport available to and from the church for those who need it.

    The vicar, the Rev Paul Chamberlain, was overwhelmed with offers when he asked for volunteers to help. He said: “I have been amazed by the response! By mid-November I was having to turn volunteers down, and even now I keep receiving emails from wonderful local people saying they’d like to help. I feel bad for having to say we have enough help, but also really proud that there are so many people in our community prepared to help others on this special day.”

    Harbour Church in central Portsmouth will also throw open their doors to those who are hungry or lonely on Christmas Day. Their Harbour Coffee Shop in Commercial Road will offer free festive baps to those in need between 11am and 1.30pm on Christmas Day. If you’d like to donate to help fund this project, click on www.justgiving.com/campaign/christmasdaycafe

    And in the New Year, seven churches in the city of Portsmouth will throw open their doors from January 7 for a two-month project to offer food and shelter to those who are homeless. Worshippers will offer a hot meal and a place to sleep within their churches or church halls during the coldest eight weeks of the winter. The ‘Open Church’ project was trialled last winter, but is expanding this year.

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