A cafe will open its doors on Christmas Day to ensure no one is left alone for the festivities.
Betz, in Church Street, Seaham, has launched a soup kitchen which will open every Wednesday evening.
Mum and son team Betty and Tom Corkin welcomed people to the session for the first time this week and are now preparing to put on a special Christmas Day dinner for the homeless and needy.
The cafe, in the former Peters Bakery unit in the high street, opened in February as Betty, 66, put her savings into the business, which serves up hot and cold meals, drinks and snacks during the day.
The soup kitchen has been set up thanks to support from businesses including Bainbridge’s grocers, which has gifted fruit and vegetables, and Tesco, which has donated cash to spend on stock.
Denmark Foods, a fishmongers who trades in the street’s Friday market, will also be gifting seafood to the project, while Stay Aid, the Salvation Army, Barnardo’s and Charity’s Place have offered help by passing on donations of clothing.
The community has really come together to support this.Tom Corkin
Tom, 32, said: “Since we opened in February, we’ve helped as many people as we can and it’s also about giving something back.
“The soup kitchen is mainly for the homeless people of Seaham and the needy who are struggling and they can come down, have some soup and a hot drink, we can give them a hot sandwich to take away and it also gives them a place to come and sit down, have a talk to others and we can put them in touch with someone if they need to call.
“Free The Way is just down the street and it’s really good at helping people with drug and alcohol problems and personally I’ve worked as a Lifeline mentor, which comes in handy.
“People have come in and said they’re buying something for someone out there and we have always said keep your money, take it for them.
“On Christmas Day, we know there might be older people on their own, but they can come down for a few hours and have their dinner.
“The community has really come together to support this.”
The cafe will be serving Christmas dinner from 11am to 2pm on Monday, with the Wednesday soup kitchen from 5pm to 7pm.