Homeless given three-course meal and clothes at Wolverhampton Christmas dinner
Homeless people were given a three-course meal, presents and new clothes at a heart-warming Christmas dinner in the Black Country.
The public donated a haul of clothes, food, toiletries and Christmas presents for the meal at Wolverhampton's Grand Station.
The Christmas Day event was organised by the wedding venue in Sun Street with the help of volunteer group Outreach 4 Wolverhampton.
Among the rough sleepers to attend was Neil Vowles, 45, from Wolverhampton.
He said: "This Christmas meal is great because it helps a lot of homeless people out. I am having a look now for some new clothes.
"I have been homeless half my life. Homelessness isn't just a problem in the Midlands but the whole country, like London and Birmingham. It is not just Wolverhampton and the Black Country.
"I believe the Government could do a lot more to help out. They have got statistics but they don't see all the people in the streets and down alleyways."
The entrance to Grand Station was lined with donated clothes, shoes and sleeping bags for guests to collect, while dozens of tables and chairs were lined up inside one of the halls to serve diners their Christmas meals.
There was also a table full of toiletries while a huge pile of donated presents lay wrapped under a sparkling Christmas tree.
Among those to bring in a present was Bedraj Ram, 61, from Great Barr, who is a lead practitioner at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
Bedraj brought five presents, which were donated by the hospital and contained toiletries and other gifts.
He said: "I felt it was important to come to the Christmas event because, first-of-all, homelessness shouldn't be happening in this country. People shouldn't be on the streets.
"We are a rich, Western country. I was brought up in the UK and seen different forms of poverty but this shouldn't be happening."
After guests arrived, they were treated to a dinner of soup to start, a traditional roast for the main course, followed by raspberry cake.
Around 50 people were expected to attend - not just homeless people but those less fortunate at Christmas, including people who are lonely and lack friends or family for company.
A team of around 40 volunteers gave up their Christmas Day to put on the event.
Among them was Neil Amison, co-ordinator for Outreach 4 Wolverhampton, who said: "We organised this event because it is not nice to sit in doorsteps or in a room on your own at Christmas.
"So we had been planning to run an event like this for a while and coincidently, Lidia Bardi from the Grand Station contacted us about running an event together and help in setting it up.
"There is so much stuff here, it is untrue, a lot more than we expected. Various schools towards Codsall way and Midcounties Co-op over there, a lot of these gift boxes came from the people donating to the schools and Co-op. We had an appeal for clothing, we had half a dozen bags, it is the time of year, people want to help out. "
He added: "People shouldn't be out on the streets in any weather, let alone Christmas."
Lidia Bardi added: "This year, Grand Station decided they wanted to do a Christmas dinner, originally it started out for homeless people, then it was for the elderly as well, then it turned out for anyone who needed a meal and company on Christmas Day.
"We heard on the radio that homelessness was a problem in the West Midlands so we wanted to help out and raise awareness."
Guest Andes Leizanders, who is originally from Latvia but now lives in Wolverhampton, was delighted to pick up a fresh pair of trainers to replace his old ones.
The 39-year-old said: "I think this Christmas meal is fabulous, it is always a nice time around Christmas.
"I am homeless. Sometimes homeless, sometimes not, now again for two, three weeks, around getting jobs, everything. Someone stole my passport and now it is not too easy.
"I have been homeless for about one-and-a-half years. I am from Latvia. I came to England for work, then I lost some work, then I was fine again, and then lost everything, and now I am homeless. What can I do? It is life. I think I will go back.
"It is nice to see this Christmas event to help people who are living rough."
Outreach 4 Wolverhampton has been running for the past three years and visits homeless people on the streets six times a week.
For more information about Outreach, visit www.facebook.com/groups/outreach4wolverhampton
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