www.hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk     Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

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The Season of Goodwill?

Before I heard of the amazing work of Surviving Christmas, Hastings, writes Beth Davies, I thought that the Season of Goodwill had died alongside Ebenezer Scrooge. However, since 1985 this local charity has been helping the vulnerable people of Hastings, St Leonards and Rother, providing food and company over the Christmas period, delivering hampers and despatching vouchers to local people in need.

I spoke to the charity who told me the story of ‘Peter’, living proof that Surviving Christmas is not just about getting through those few days, but about hope for the future.  He told them of how he lived through difficult times.  ‘Christmas for him was simply a time when the streets emptied and doors closed, leaving him entirely hopeless, and lonelier than ever.  When he heard mention of a free meal at the YMCA he was doubtful, but with nowhere else to go, he headed there anyway and was amazed at the warmth of the welcome he received.

‘The place was pulsing with the generosity and enthusiasm of the volunteers, and the food and company were offered without question or judgement. The experience renewed his faith in the care of his local community.  It gave him hope and inspired him to find a way out of his situation.  Peter is now a valued member of the Surviving Christmas committee, determined to give back to the community by sharing his life experience and knowledge for the benefit of others.  He dedicates his limited spare time to raising funds for this charity which he knows at first hand makes such a vital difference to people in genuine need.’

The big event is spread over three days at the YMCA and is where lonely and homeless people are given a warm welcome, along with a meal each day and a chance to choose some warm clothes from the clothes store, new and used clean clothes which have been donated. Money is also raised to enable the charity to give food vouchers to disadvantaged families and young people referred by professional agencies. Food donations are welcome and are packed into hampers and delivered to families and elderly people in need.

Whether you love or hate Christmas, you can’t help but feel inspired by this wonderful charity and its tireless work to provide for the homeless, lonely and vulnerable at Christmas time. If you feel that you are able to help in any way, please contact Surviving Christmas through www.survivingchristmas.co.uk  or call 01424 424550. Surviving Christmas also relies on the generous help of volunteers.  If you’d like to be involved, not just at Christmas but at any time, please get in touch.

  • £5 pays for a food voucher for one person
  • £10 pays for a hamper for an elderly or housebound person
  • £30 pays for 3 days at the Open Christmas Event for one person

You can also help by donating via www.charitygiving.co.uk.  If you are a UK taxpayer, please gift-aid your donation, so the tax can be claimed back, increasing the amount the charity receives.

Tubman too

Hastings is a diverse town and, as a relatively new resident, I am constantly amazed at what can be found around each corner. Not only do we have the amazing Surviving Christmas looking out for those suffering during the festive period but the landlord of a local pub has also extended a very welcoming hand to the lonely. The Tubman on Cambridge Road, Hastings, has put out an open invitation to those alone at Christmas. The pub will be hosting a free lunch on the big day and is asking for donations of food  and money,  and welcomes volunteers.

So, if like me, you’ve become a little ‘bah, humbug’ about the whole affair, take a good look around our wonderful town and be reminded that this is, truly, the season of goodwill to ALL men, women and children.

Merry Christmas!

The YMCA is in St Paul’s Road, St Leonards
Tel 01424 429677

The Tubman is at 57 Cambridge Road, Hastings
Tel 01424 420074

Posted 12:15 Tuesday, Dec 18, 2012 In: Hastings People

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