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Emmaus president Sir Terry Waite pops in to charity’s special Christmas meal  

Sir Terry Waite has supported Emmaus Cambridge since he first opened the site in 1991

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Homelessness charity, Emmaus Cambridge hosted a free Christmas dinner to support people in the local community facing loneliness or financial difficulties. The charity held the event on Sunday (10th December) after a resident, named Barney, suggested they should offer a roast dinner for those who would be spending Christmas Day alone.

Guests got an extra treat as the event was attended by Emmaus’s president, Sir Terry Waite KCMG CBE. who wished everyone a Merry Christmas and joined in with some Christmas carols.

Sir Terry Waite with lunch guests

Sir Terry Waite with lunch guests

Sir Terry Waite has been a loyal supporter of Emmaus Cambridge since he first opened the site in 1991 and most recently joined the charity in opening their six modular homes.

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The meal, hosted at the charity’s café, Joan’s Coffee Shop, was attended by 40 Cambridgeshire locals from ages three to 90. Each attendee received a three-course Christmas dinner including a Roast Turkey or Vegetable Wellington with all the trimmings.

Table set for Christmas lunch

Table set for Christmas lunch

Barney, who has previously experienced homelessness, has a home and support provided by Emmaus Cambridge. He lives with 44 other residents at the charity’s Landbeach accommodation, where they are supported to rebuild their lives through meaningful work experience and therapeutic activities.

The three-course meal was prepared and cooked by residents of Emmaus Cambridge. Many residents are gaining work experience in the charity’s café, and the event gave them an opportunity to expand their hospitality skills.

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Joan Kearns, Emmaus Cambridge’s Operations Manager says: “When Barney came to us and suggested the idea for a community Christmas meal, we knew it was something we should do.

Food donations from BEFA

Food donations from BEFA

“An important part of Emmaus’ ethos is solidarity, meaning to help those who need it first, and this event was a wonderful way to do that. Our residents enjoy giving back support to others and it was lovely to see so many people who had never met, gathering together, and connecting over a meal.”

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Attendees to the event and customers to Emmaus Cambridge’s shop also enjoyed live carols from Sing Choir, creating a beautiful festive atmosphere.

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Companion Barney with lunch guest

Companion Barney with lunch guest

BEFAs Ken Smith with Companion Barney

BEFAs Ken Smith with Companion Barney

The Christmas lunch event was made possible with the support of food poverty charity, Buckingham Emergency Food Appeal (BEFA), who contacted Emmaus Cambridge after seeing the event advertised online. BEFA generously provided all the food and ingredients needed for Emmaus to cook roast dinners for 40 people. BEFA supplies free food to charities caring for homeless and vulnerable people.

Ken Smith, BEFA Operations Manager says “I used to volunteer at Emmaus Cambridge when Joan’s Coffee Shop was first set up in the early 1990s and it was great to be able to support Emmaus again through BEFA.

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Companion Barney with Ken Smith from BEFA

Companion Barney with Ken Smith from BEFA

“Emmaus offers a really unique support system for homeless people, and they do great work in the community including this solidarity dinner. It was a pleasure to provide the food for their event and meet the companions who organised it.”

After the success of the event, Emmaus Cambridge hopes to work with BEFA more in the future to provide free meals throughout the year.

To learn more about Emmaus Cambridge and the work the charity does, visit their website: www.emmaus.org.uk/cambridge.

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