HOMELESS people have built the set for a nativity play, which they will perform in tomorrow.
Ten youngsters from Sunderland charity Centrepoint are building the stable and painting sets for a production of the greatest story ever told, which is to be performed at St Andrew’s Church in Roker.
Staff and young people from the hostel in Dundas Street, Monkwearmouth, will also be performing, and one resident will be sharing his experiences of homelessness during the interval.
Businesses have donated their time and resources to ensure the nativity can be staged – Gentoo Group have provided the materials to build the crib and stable, the Rowan Tree Coffee Shop are supplying refreshments, and organisers are hopeful that a real donkey will feature in the performance.
Reverend Richard Bradshaw, said: “Our community Christmas nativity celebration came from the feeling that the story of Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem, was something which really should be shared with as many parts of the community in this part of Sunderland as possible.
“When we approached Centrepoint to ask if they would like to help their response was an enthusiastic ‘yes’.
“Jesus himself was homeless as a baby and homelessness is just as much an issue today as it was two thousand years ago.
“The hope is that as many as possible will come and enjoy our nativity, with all the favourite carols, and find that the re-telling of the birth of Jesus will fill all of our hearts with peace and joy this Christmas.”
Figures released by the Department of Communities and Local Government earlier this month show that 763 people at risk of homelessness where assisted by Sunderland City Council in the last year.
More than 13,000 people were assisted by local authorities across the North East.
Martin Gill, Centrepoint head of operations in the north, said: “We were delighted to be asked to lend a hand with the nativity, it should be great fun.
“A massive 80,000 young people face homelessness each year across the UK, often through no fault of their own.
“So it’s imperative that there’s a safety net in place to help vulnerable people locally.
“As well as providing a safe place to stay, Centrepoint help homeless young people feel part of the community, by finding work and learning the skills they need to live independently.”