CHURCHES in Portsmouth will throw open their doors to help the homeless and lonely on Christmas Day.
Among the sites supporting those who would otherwise be on their own at Christmas is St Simon’s Church in Waverley Road, Southsea.
It will hold its Sunday Supper on Christmas Day, which helps those who are homeless, or facing problems with alcohol, drug addictions or mental health issues.
The supper, which has been running for nearly three decades, offers a simple meal and support to those who need it.
Kindhearted volunteers are giving up their Christmas evening to help throw a party for residents who may feel isolated, with the fun beginning at 5.30pm.
Event co-ordinator Mike Taylor, from St Simon’s Church, said the team normally gave soup, rolls and cakes at Sunday Supper.
But this time they were determined to hold a Christmas party, complete with a buffet dinner, refreshments and carols.
He said: ‘We wanted to be there for our regulars and also for anyone else who might feel isolated at Christmas.
‘And we wanted to be open, as we have offered Sunday Suppers every single Sunday for about 28 years. It would be a shame not to offer that support on a day like Christmas Day.’
A curate from Christ Church, Portsdown, is also hoping to make Christmas special for needy families in Portsmouth. Reverend Mark James has launched The 25 Appeal with help from Christian friends and the North Harbour branch of Tesco.
The idea is that people donate cash to provide food hampers worth £25 for 250 disadvantaged families in Portsmouth. The hampers, which will be bulging with Christmas treats, will be delivered as a surprise to needy families. To donate, see 252525.org.
‘I was amazed to discover how many children and adults in Portsmouth don’t have enough to eat, and might not be able to enjoy Christmas,’ he said. ‘Economic, family and health reasons have driven some families to desperation.
‘So we thought that individual families might like to support another family by providing a £25 hamper of goodies for them.’
Elsewhere, Portsmouth Cathedral, in High Street, Old Portsmouth, will hold a three-course Christmas Day lunch for 60 people, in a joint event with FoodCycle, a charity that creates meals from surplus food.
It is the first time the event has been held at the site.