Volunteers use free time to help spread a bit of festive cheer

Max Scard, one of the cooks, preparing food ahead of this year's Surviving Christmas event SUS-141224-121122001
Max Scard, one of the cooks, preparing food ahead of this year's Surviving Christmas event SUS-141224-121122001

An army of volunteers helped spread festive cheer to some of the town’s most vulnerable residents over Christmas.

The charity, Surviving Christmas, laid on its annual Open Christmas event for the homeless and needy on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Showers, hairdressing, medical services, clothing, warm meals and friendship were all on offer, courtesy of volunteers at The Salvation Army Hall in St Andrew’s Square.

Mayor Bruce Dowling also paid a visit on Christmas Day to offer his best wishes to volunteers and clients alike.

He said: “At Surviving Christmas the volunteers were helping clients with a variety of services including hair cuts, new clothing and more, and with a full Christmas dinner as well. It was good to be able to talk to so many people from our town that you do not always meet. I know everybody was very grateful for the work of the volunteers who gave up their time and really made Christmas special for their guests.”

2014 was Surviving Christmas’ 30th year of helping those in need, such as the elderly, vulnerable and those on low incomes. It was also the first year that the charity’s Open Christmas event was held at The Salvation Army Hall in St Andrew’s Square. Prior to that it was held at the Y Centre.

Ann Andrews, the charity’s chairman of trustees, said: “We had quite a lot of new faces this year and many of the old crowd. I think this year we reached more people than we did at the Y. The Open Christmas event proved to be a huge success having it in the centre of Hastings. We hope to have a partnership with the Salvation Army for many years.” Surviving Christmas also packed and delivered up to 600 hampers to families and those in need. A new project was also piloted in partnership with St Matthews Church, St Leonards to help reduce isolation among the elderly. Referrals were taken for a small group of guests to share lunch and make friends within the parish of St Matthew’s and St Paul’s.