Hillington Square provided a home for festive celebrations on Friday, when The Purfleet Trust held their annual Christmas lunch for the homeless.
Marking the end of a successful year’s work, the charity has confirmed that all but one of their service users will have a place to stay this Christmas, and with donations of emergency food parcels, there will be food for all.
Their Christmas meal provided the perfect opportunity to spread some festive cheer and make sure all of the vulnerable people they have been helping had the chance to experience a family Christmas.
Mandy Lewis, health and wellbeing support worker for the Trust, said: “Some won’t be having Christmas dinner, some won’t have a family to go to and some will be on the streets for Christmas, so it is very important to us and to them that we hold this Christmas lunch.
“We see these people throughout the year for various problems and struggles, so this is a way of bringing everyone together at the end of the year for a positive occasion.”
She added: “Every year, thanks to donations, we give every single person a Christmas present – this year the turnout has been amazing! We’ve had lots of donations, particularly from churches.”
The meal was carefully prepared by a team of volunteers, including some former clients, who wanted to help.
Chairman of the Trust, John Belfield said: “We’re so lucky to have the staff and volunteers that we do, and this is a great way of saying thank you for everything.”
After a busy year, the team are already setting goals for the next 12 months.
Chief executive Paula Hall said: “We’ve always been committed to finding long-term solutions to homelessness – our training has really worked at getting people off the streets and into work.
“Our halfway houses have helped ensure that those who would be out of accommodation this Christmas have somewhere to stay.”
The Purfleet Trust have noticed a new influx of women requiring their services, so this has provided a new focus for the year ahead.
Paula added: “There has been a significant increase in the number of homeless women coming to us, so our goal for next year is going to be more gender-specific.”