A Christmas Meal for Bristol's Homeless
11th January 2019
On Sunday 30 December, a team of ten members from the Bristol Central Seventh-day Adventist church brought smiles to the faces of dozens of homeless people in Bristol, as they sat down to a tasty, hot home-cooked meal. Pastor Royston Smith, the local church pastor, first discussed the idea with the church board earlier in the year and was keen to see it through. Mary Philip (Community Ministries leader), was instrumental in planning and gaining support for the event, as following discussions with her Ward Manager Penny Crawley, she sent an email to all staff at the Rosa Burden Centre at Southmead Hospital, inviting them to support the event. The call was received with enthusiasm, and individuals brought in canned food items, biscuits, boxed fruit juices, crisps etc, which were put together in takeaway goody bags and handed to the guests following the meal.
Mary and Pastor Smith had originally planned to host the event on Christmas Day. However, a week before, they found out another charity called 'Caring in Bristol' had already organised a feeding programme on the same day, as part of their annual Caring at Christmas project. However, as there were three days when no hot meals were being provided, they selected Sunday 30 December as the best day due to other church planned programmes.
Inviting the homeless was an easy task for volunteer Dale Grandison, as he knew exactly where to find them, as he worked in the area. Also, an invitation went out through 'Caring in Bristol', who said that they would happily circulate the information. Volunteers Bernet and Sharon Cochrane were only too glad to ensure that the food was purchased, prepared and served on time.
On the day, the guests came back for second helpings and were so pleased to be treated with a home-cooked meal as well as cakes, juice and ice cream afterwards. There was a real sense of calmness and togetherness in the church hall, as several cups of tea and hot chocolate were served by the happy helpers. Dale also played soft background music to cheer everyone on.
In all, a total of 60 people were fed and given a goody bag to take away. Guests started gathering from 11:00 am and were patiently sat waiting for the lunch to begin at 1:00 pm. The attendees were so appreciative of the food and people who had come along from the church to share in the family spirit. Many complimented the menu, with one individual stating "the food was amazing! Brilliant!"
The main goal was to invest and serve the local community by creating an opportunity especially for those who often may feel unwelcome or unappreciated to feel at home. It is a pleasure to know that the true meaning of family was presented to the community and was deeply appreciated. Some were heard saying "Thank you, so very much" and one lady who had been there from 11:00 am stood on a chair to get the attention of the audience and stated, "We need to give a round of applause for the organiser."
All in all, it was a great witness and demonstration of Christ's love and mission to serve those who are in need, and all who attended and took part in it, were truly blessed.