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40 homeless and vulnerable people treated to Christmas dinner by Lincoln firms

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: December 27, 2012

Helping others: Scott McKie, front, pictured with others who benefited from the free meal offer. Picture: John Jenkins

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More than 40 homeless and vulnerable people were treated to Christmas dinner thanks to the kind donations of three businesses.

The group enjoyed the hot meal at St Mary le Wigford Church, in St Mary's Street near Lincoln Central station.

City law firm Sills and Betteridge organised the evening on Sunday, December 23, after hearing that dozens of people would not get a Christmas meal in the city this year.

The event also welcomed people with mental health problems or other difficulties.

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One woman had been walking the streets for 36 hours after becoming a victim of domestic abuse.

Chris Carter, 30, who is sleeping in a shelter run by The Nomad Trust in Lincoln, volunteered to help cook the food.

He became homeless after he lost his job as a chef on the Spanish island of Tenerife and returned to his home city this winter.

He said: "It's just about giving something back to people that have helped me and my partner, and I love working.

"Having this meal shows the people here that there are others out there willing to help them.

"I think being in our situation this year really makes you appreciate what we do have, especially at Christmas time."

It is estimated there are between 60 and 70 homeless people in the city.

And while charities like The Nomad Trust can provide some accommodation, it is thought there are around nine people who cannot find anywhere to sleep every night. Robin Brettell, 44, moved from Manchester to Lincoln in April.

He said: "That's the only Christmas meal we're going to get.

"It was brilliant. We wouldn't get it otherwise.

"I'm more than grateful.

"Christmas Day is just like and normal day for us, but this makes it feel a bit more like Christmas."

The church has provided a pre-Christmas lunch since 2008 but this year's meal was under threat due to a lack of funds.

Sills and Betteridge enlisted the help of suppliers and their own 200 staff to provide the meal.

Odling Brothers Butchers, in Navenby, donated the turkeys while Andy Tasker, from Beckfield Nurseries in Brant Broughton, supplied the vegetables.

Liz Jackson, manager of the church's BeAttitude project, which offers subsidised food and daytime shelter for homeless people, said the festive period was difficult for people sleeping rough.

"It's an emotional time for people," she said.

"People may feel like no one cares about them but this shows them that there are people out there who do."

Reverend Jeremy Cullimore, the vicar at the church, said the meal helped to make the diners feel like they were part of a community.

"It confirms to them that they have a family," he said.

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