Special Christmas lunch for Northampton's homeless community sees 130 fed

Christmas came early at Northampton's Hope Centre on Friday as the Chronicle & Echo helped to arrange a free roast dinner ahead of December 25.

Saturday, 14th December 2019, 6:00 am
The Rotary Club and volunteers pictured cooking the roast dinner. Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.

More than 120 chicken breasts, ten bags of potatoes, boxes of mince pies and a gallon of custard was served up to more than 130 of Northampton's homeless community yesterday.

It comes as the Chronicle & Echo reached out to Aldi supermarket, on the former Chron site, to see if they could help this newspaper to feed those who are less fortunate with a free meal.

After reaching out through our online article for helpers, amazing volunteers got in touch, and the Rotary Club of Becket Northampton also donated their time to chop carrots, dice potatoes and whisk the gravy.

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Terry Atkinson, Sid Copehan, Robert Martell, Stacy Doyle and Jan Timson were in charge of cooking.

Usually, people who access the Hope Centre and access benefits, are asked to make a small donation for their lunch as a way of helping them budget their money sensibly.

But on Friday, as a Christmas treat, the lunch was free of charge for the homeless community who use the Hope Centre's day centre in Campbell Street.

Fundraising manager, Louise Danielczuk, said: "The whole point of us being here is helping people to move forward.

"Right from the moment people walk through the door we offer them self respect.

Aldi supplied chicken breasts, carrots, broccoli, green beans, potatoes, gravy. And, then for pudding cheesecake, mince pies, apple strudle and custard.

"I always think for people to give up their time and for big companies to give up their stock means that the service users know that people really care about them. We would welcome working with Aldi again."

Rotary Club member-turned chef, Robert Martell, was on roast potato duty. He said: "It has been great and really, really worthwhile.

"We have been involved with the Hope Centre before and have provided them with a cooker a few years back." He laughed: "Today we have been a well-oiled machine. I think we would definitely do this again next year."

Volunteer Cecilia Olzon, who was grabbing something to eat, said: "It's been such a good day.

Deb Ost, Paul Simpson, Mariane Gould, Martin Thorton, Diane Atkinson.

"When we have free dinners it can be bangers and mash but when they said they were doing chicken and proper potatoes I was like 'wow, I'm dreaming'."

Sue Pesland has been volunteering at Hope for nine years. She added: "I have been here for nine years cooking. It's always been kitchen work for me. My daughter was an alcoholic.

"She had severe mental health problems. She did not come here but I made sure she was looked after.

"When she died I wanted to give back and help out people who might be in her situation."

Volunteer Cecilia Olzon.

Reporter for the Chron, Carly Roberts, said: "Thank you to the Rotary Club, the volunteers who contacted this newspaper and to Aldi for helping to provide a warm and comforting meal to more than 100 people at Northampton's Hope Centre.

"There was a long queue of people waiting in anticipation for their roast dinner, pudding and lots of empty plates were stacked up high.

"A smile was put on many faces and we would love to help again next year."

If you would like to help the homeless community further - the Hope Centre is collecting Christmas presents for their day service users to unwrap on December 25.

Gift donations can be dropped off at either of Hope’s premises, at their main hub at 35-37 Campbell Street, or at their charity shop at 59-61 Abington Street.

The Hope Centre has asked specifically for new and unwrapped donations, which should include chocolates, smellies, razors, new underwear, coffee, mugs and money.

Service users waiting for their food.

Anyone wishing to make a financial contribution can do so by calling the Hope Centre on 01604 214300, or by visiting their webpage and by clicking on donate.