Coming together for some festive cheer

Enjoying the festive party.                                                            Pictures: Steve Parkin
Enjoying the festive party. Pictures: Steve Parkin

TURKEY and all the trimmings were on the menu when a Sheffield centre for the vulnerable and socially excluded held its annual Christmas lunch.

Hundreds of regulars and friends of the St Wilfrid’s Centre, on Queens Road, came together to enjoy a festive meal in a hall festooned with seasonal decorations.

Staff from the project took to the stage for a Christmas play, and annual achievement awards were presented by Sheffield United players present and past, including Blades legend Tony Currie.

The centre was also paid a visit by Secret Millionaire Simrin Choudhrie, who donated a six-figure sum to the charity this year. Simrin had posed as an impoverished mum-to-be from Pitsmoor on the Channel 4 show before surprising workers with a cheque.

St Wilfrid’s director Kevin Bradley said the lunch was ‘very important’ to users of the centre, which provides drop-in sessions for the homeless and vulnerable, as well as workshops and courses in everything from IT to woodwork for people with learning disabilities and mental health problems.

“A lot of them will not get to have a Christmas Day,” he said.

“The awards are for people that have taken part in sports events, or for things that they’ve achieved. Some might have worked in the skills workshops or made progress in reading and writing. They get a lovely medal on a red, white and blue ribbon. They’re very proud because a lot of them haven’t won anything before.”

The lunch finished with a singalong to You’ll Never Walk Alone, which has become a St Wilfrid’s Christmas tradition.

“It’s a really emotional end,” Kevin said. “People will never walk alone when they come in to St Wilfrid’s.”

The festive dinner was provided by the Claremont Hospital in Fulwood, who also sent two chefs to cook the food.

n MORE than 100 homeless and vulnerable people in Sheffield were served an early Christmas dinner thanks to the generosity of city businesses.

Corporate donations allowed Sheffield Cathedral’s Archer Project to lay on the meal for its clients. Volunteers and staff from the centre were helped by 14 workers from HSBC bank’s Commercial Centre at Europa Court on Sheffield Business Park, Tinsley.

The bankers had also raised the £1,200 needed to pay for the meal, plus almost £3,000 more as a festive gift towards the Archer Project’s work.

The food for the meal was sourced from The Company Shop, Tankersley.

Kathy Markwick, commercial officer for HSBC who helped out at the dinner, said: “It makes you realise how well-off you are compared with others. It was a very rewarding experience to give something back.”