We held our 8th annual Christmas Meal for the homeless in Guildford on Saturday. This is in conjunction with Guilford Action who run the homeless centre 5 days a week normally. We hold Curry Evenings once a month for most of the year and then the special event at Christmas.
Guildford has a homeless problem and has shelter for around 110 people per night but there are now nearly 30 sleeping rough becasue there is no room for them or they are simply unable to keep to the requirements of the hostels. On Saturday we fed 37 homeless, of whom 10 were actual rough sleepers and it is unusual to get that many rough sleepers. In all we served over 55 Turkey dinners with all the trimmings. Some came back more than once! It is wonderful that we have a team from our Guildford Church who regularly help out and more have offered if needed. An additional benefit is that we have some family and friends who also join us to see our practical work in action.
As always the puddings went down well and again several had more than one helping. We always hold a raffle with prizes for everyone but they can choose from gifts given by our members to ensure they have a very useful gift - such as gloves, scarves, socks, thermal tops etc. These are always gratefully received and we always find the attendees to be very thankful and polite. We also get a chance to talk with them about their circumstances.Some of their stories are very harrowing but most are very grateful to just have someone to talk with.
Guildford Action have started distributing the Greggs vouchers to those really in need - such as the tough sleepers, especially for the weekend when the centre is closed. Once again they were extremely grateful for the support and know that these will be something highly valued.