2020 has been anything but ordinary, so here at St Vincent’s Centre Leeds, we did everything we possibly could to ensure festivities were extraordinary for our volunteers, staff, beneficiaries as well as the wider community. While our centre would usually welcome around 100 guests for a sit down Christmas dinner, a chance to meet new people and make new friends, there was a global pandemic in the way of us hosting our supportive service.
Our community is at the forefront of everything we do and so not supplying a service so crucial to so many vulnerable people on Christmas day didn’t seem like an option to us here at SVP and so, we sat down and thought about how we could spread festive cheer in a safe and socially distanced way. This wasn’t going to be easy, with hundreds of people in need not only at Christmas – which can be a difficult time for many anyway – but also during a strange and surreal time in which even more people would be isolated, unable to see family or friends and lacking something special to unwrap on the big day. Our support was needed more than ever.
Over the period, we provided 235 hampers to a total of 577 people in need. These beneficiaries included families, probation services, vulnerable volunteers and local schools.
As well as this, we were able to provide hundreds of gifts and toys for children who would have otherwise had nothing to open from Father Christmas on Dec 25th, donating further gifts to a local hospice.
Dinner was the biggest hurdle, but with the support of many volunteers who gave up their Christmas morning to prep, pack and deliver an incredible 92 hot lunches across all of Leeds, we were able to ensure a lovely roast dinner, a handmade Christmas card and a personal gift to nearly 100 people. The feedback has been phenomenal, with one grateful receiver stating:
“Thank you so much for my meal today. I’ve spent the day alone but these little gifts, warm meal and wonderful homemade card have really put a smile on my face”
The kindness of our community is what made this possible. With several donations from churches, schools and local businesses of essential food, Christmas gifts, toiletries and specialty Christmas items, we were overwhelmed with the generosity of everyone involved. With this, we’d like to thank; Morrison’s, Iceland, St Joseph’s, Fruition, Corpus Christi Chaplaincy and of course our amazing volunteers.