A SHEFFIELD centre for homeless people stopped the traffic when it held a Christmas party on one of the hottest days of the year.
More than 80 guests dressed in Santa hats and tucked into a turkey dinner as St Wilfrid’s Centre in Queens Road held their ‘Christmas Day in May’ – and Santa visited to give everyone a present.
“We nearly stopped the traffic on Queen’s Road,” said centre director Kevin Bradley.
“When Father Christmas came down the fire escape every car slowed down and honked their horns. It’s been a great day with a great atmosphere.
“We like to do things a little bit differently at St Wilfrid’s and we like to have a bit of fun.”
Kevin added: “But there’s a serious message behind what we are doing.
“Many people who attend the centre don’t eat well and the idea was to give the message that they should try and sit down at least once a day and have a proper hot meal.
“For whatever reason, whether they have mental health problems, or find it hard to cook, some people can go without food and without meals for some times.
“We are encouraging people to have a hot meal every day – and if they can’t do it at home, they can get it at St Wilfrid’s.”
The day centre for homeless and other vulnerable people dishes up a subsidised three-course meal every day. “We provide a meal for £1.50 and it is never the same twice.”
Plans have been drawn up to develop the work of the project through a £1.8m residential centre on nearby land donated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hallam.
A reception was held this month at the Houses of Parliament to raise awareness of the centre and to appeal for support.
It was arranged by ‘Secret Millionaire’ Simrin Choudhrie, who became a patron of St Wilfrid’s after an undercover involvement as part of the Channel 4 TV series, and hosted by the chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, Keith Vaz.
Business people, local MPs and other supporters, including former Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock and his wife, Sharon, were among those attending. United have strong ties with the centre, which is near their Bramall Lane ground.
Kevin Bradley said: “St Wilfrid’s could be a model for the rest of society and together with our great friend Simmi, we have ambitions to roll out similar projects throughout the UK.”
lSt Wilfrid’s holds an exhibition tomorrow between 11am and 3pm fearturing the work of Mark Lawlor, who has learnt to paint with his left hand after his right arm was affected by a stroke. He is is a volunteer at the centre.