The festive spirit of Sunderland’s homeless

The annual Carol Concert at Sunderland Salvation Army Swan Lodge, involving staff, residents and visitors.

The annual Carol Concert at Sunderland Salvation Army Swan Lodge, involving staff, residents and visitors.

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HOMELESS people gathered to enjoy some festive cheer.

Residents of Swan Lodge Salvation Army life house came together for their annual concert.

The annual Carol Concert at Sunderland Salvation Army Swan Lodge, involving staff, residents and visitors.

The annual Carol Concert at Sunderland Salvation Army Swan Lodge, involving staff, residents and visitors.

Mayor and Mayoress of Sunderland, Councillors Iain Kay and Barbara McClennan, were treated to a rendition of Mary’s Boy Child, as well as more traditional Christmas carols.

A Salvation Army band from the citadel, in Cairo Street, joined the singers.

Workers at the hostel in High Street West performed a mini Christmas play, before many of the 65 residents and their friends and family enjoyed a buffet.

Centre manager Christine Ritchie said: “For some of the lads it’s a really difficult time of year, because some have kids that they won’t get to see, but others really enjoy it.

The annual Carol Concert at Sunderland Salvation Army Swan Lodge, involving staff, residents and visitors. Sunderland Mayor Iain Kay and Mayoress Barbara McClennan join in the singing.

The annual Carol Concert at Sunderland Salvation Army Swan Lodge, involving staff, residents and visitors. Sunderland Mayor Iain Kay and Mayoress Barbara McClennan join in the singing.

“We’ve been fund-raising throughout the year, so they all got a £20 Wilkinson’s voucher, which is useful if they get their own places to live.

“We had the computers on, so they could use Facebook and the phones to keep in touch with their families.”

A resident and tutor at Swan Lodge ended 2012 on a high after scooping awards for their good work.

Bruce Wayne, who changed his named by deed poll after his comic book hero, was named learner of the year by the National Open College Network.

The annual Carol Concert at Sunderland Salvation Army Swan Lodge, involving staff, residents and visitors.

The annual Carol Concert at Sunderland Salvation Army Swan Lodge, involving staff, residents and visitors.

And inspirational tutor Sonia Ritchie-Park was a finalist in the What’s On 4 Me awards.

Sonia, 32, who lives in Grangetown, secured her nominations after dreaming up and designing the tenancy scheme, which is accredited through the Open College Network.

The 12-week course helps Swan Lodge residents make the leap to independent living – by teaching basics skills including cooking and cleaning.

Twitter: @janethejourno

Bishopwearmouth Young Singers perform a Christmas Concert at Ewesley Road Church in Sunderland, with the help of Bishopwearmouth Choral Society Chamber Choir.

Bishopwearmouth Young Singers perform a Christmas Concert at Ewesley Road Church in Sunderland, with the help of Bishopwearmouth Choral Society Chamber Choir.