THE season of goodwill is shining brightly as two kind-hearted mums are opening up their home to the homeless this Christmas.
Best friends Ella Edmunds, 25, and Heidi Baker, 38, are transforming Heidi’s garden into a makeshift ‘soup kitchen’ for Christmas, complete with tents and gazebos that have been donated, to support servicemen and women and other homeless people who turn up.
Their gesture came about after watching a news item on the television about a war veteran who was living on the streets.
Ella, a mum-of-one from Havant, said: ‘We were watching the television news and it came up about a guy from Brighton who had been to war and there was no help for him when he came back.
‘His family were out on the streets.
‘It just broke our hearts. We sat there crying. We were talking about what we could possibly do to make them have a nicer Christmas.’
Any homeless person, including anyone who served in the forces, is welcome to stay over the three nights of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Heidi, a mum-of-three and care worker, of Marldell Close, West Leigh, said: ‘I have an 80ft by 30ft garden. It’s a nice size and there’s as much room for as many bodies as we can fit in.
‘It’s going to be like a big winter barbecue – sausages, burgers, chips and soups. We will probably have a nice pot of stew.We are going to do what we can to make sure they are warm and sheltered.
‘We have been donated a load of clothes, sleeping bags, bedding and blankets. They will all have something to take away with them.’
Helping with donations has been Age UK and the food has been donated by Tanya Armes, Heidi’s future mother-in-law, and Heidi’s work colleagues at Carewatch in Waterlooville.
The mums are currently setting up the garden. The sheds will have slow cookers so people can help themselves to warm food whenever they want.
Ella said: ‘We have cut the grass and cleaned up the sheds. We want to get it done as early as possible so we are not rushing round.’
Heidi added: ‘It’s just horrible to think that some people won’t have anything and have somewhere warm over Christmas. Everybody is welcome. Everybody deserves Christmas.’
Heidi said her family will not be eating at the table while everyone else is outside.
‘Why should we be in the warm when everybody else is in the garden?’ she said.
‘We are going to make it a huge unrelated family Christmas.’
The exact number of homeless veterans in the UK is unknown, but it is estimated there are more than 1,000 in the London area alone.