Festive feast served up to Weymouth's homeless

Dorset Echo: GOOD DEED: Angie Barnes of Soul Food is appealing for more donations and helpers to help feed the homeless on Christmas Day GOOD DEED: Angie Barnes of Soul Food is appealing for more donations and helpers to help feed the homeless on Christmas Day

VOLUNTEERS in Weymouth will be spending their Christmas Day feeding the homeless.

A traditional festive feast will be served up and presents handed round at The Prayerhouse, Newstead Road on December 25 as a way of making people on the streets feel welcome and special, if only for a few hours.

Outreach worker Angie Barnes, of Soul Food, said community donations made the event possible.

Thousands of pounds worth of goods, including food, clothes and money, has been donated in the past 12 months.

Miss Barnes, who has been volunteering with the group for many years, added: “I’d like to thank everyone, from members of the public to small businesses, who have supported us – their help has been invaluable.

“The men, women and children who engage with us are very grateful.

“People are so generous and understanding. Despite the recession they realise there are individuals who are a lot worse off.

“It lets rough sleepers know that they are not alone at Christmas.”

Soul Food has been running for 14 years and provides hot meals for rough sleepers which may include those addicted to drugs and drink and ex-offenders.

As well as food they provide shower facilities, clothing and a nurse and mental health worker attends weekly.

Christmas diners have had to engage with Soul Food in some way and added their name to a list and cannot just turn up on the day.

Miss Barnes, who spent time on the streets herself, also made a plea on behalf of the homeless.

She said: “The government needs to start helping the increasing numbers of rough sleepers.

“It is not just a problem in Weymouth but nationwide.

“Mortgage rates and budget cuts in the economic climate make it more difficult for everyone, especially the homeless.

“We’ve had a family come to us recently who had lost their home – it is really heartbreaking when children are involved.”

Miss Barnes is calling for any social landlords who may be able to help home the increasing number of rough sleepers to contact her.

To make a donation or get involved call Angie Barnes on 07921 905347. For more details visit communigate.co.uk/dorset/soulfood

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