Sunderland church hosts free Christmas Day lunch for homeless and needy

A church is hosting a free Christmas Day lunch for the homeless and needy.

Wednesday, 13th December 2017, 11:00 am
Father Marc Lyden-Smith outside St Mary's Church, Bridge Street, Sunderland with the Christmas Lunch poster. Picture by FRANK REID

It will be the second year in a row that St Mary’s Church, in Bridge Street, Sunderland city centre, has held the event in its parish centre next door.

Twelve months ago nearly 100 people turned up and organisers feel the number could be higher this year due to ongoing benefit cuts.

Father Marc Lyden-Smith outside of St Marys Church, Bridge Street, Sunderland with the Christmas Lunch poster. Picture by FRANK REID

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Parish priest Father Marc Lyden-Smith said: “We opened up last Christmas Day and fed almost 100 people.

“With deeper government cuts we have seen an increase in homeless in our city and more and more families pushed to their limits.

“So we intend to open up on Christmas Day from noon and provide a free Christmas lunch to all in need.

“Last year we set out to feed the homeless but we realised that the need was for anyone who found the cost of Christmas just too much.”

Father Marc Lyden-Smith outside of St Marys Church, Bridge Street, Sunderland with the Christmas Lunch poster. Picture by FRANK REID

The lunch takes place on Monday, December 25, from noon-1.30pm with support from parishioners, the Salvation Army and Sunderland Minster.

Such is the commitment to the meal that the church already had enough volunteers to prepare and serve food.

Presents have also been donated and Father Lyden-Smith added: “The people of Sunderland are naturally very welcoming and generous and we hope to showcase that loudly and clearly on Christmas Day in St Mary’s.

“If you’re alone or stuck this Christmas, come and celebrate with us, and know that you are part of our community here in Sunderland, that you matter and you are welcome.

Father Marc Lyden-Smith outside of St Marys Church, Bridge Street, Sunderland with the Christmas Lunch poster. Picture by FRANK REID

“Anyone and everyone is welcome, no matter who you are, however wealthy or not you are or what you do or do not believe in. Everyone is welcome.”.

Bookings in advance are not essential but can still be made by calling (0191) 5675354 or emailing [email protected]

Father Marc Lyden-Smith outside of St Marys Church, Bridge Street, Sunderland with the Christmas Lunch poster. Picture by FRANK REID