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Home for Christmas

Dave (left) with Wesley Mission Brisbane Minister Tim Hodgson and John (right). Photo by Mardi Lumsden

WHEN MOST people are sitting down to lunch with family or friends this Christmas, hundreds of volunteers around the state will be serving others at Christmas lunches for those without a home or family to celebrate with.

Wesley Mission Brisbane holds an annual Christmas lunch for the homeless, this year to be held in the Brisbane City Hall.

Wesley Mission minister to the marginalised Tim Hodgson said he is expecting around 400 people to attend the lunch with about 100 volunteers.

“Doing the Christmas lunch is a lifesaver because people who have nowhere to go on Christmas Day, no family to visit, no family to be with, they come to the Christmas lunch and they are able to find a place of belonging and hospitality and feel good about themselves.

“Some people who haven’t been able to attend have been absolutely devastated and depressed have actually taken their lives because Christmas is such a tragic event for them.”

Mr Hodgson also conducts a Christmas Day communion service for around 60 of his ‘streeties’ in a local park.

spoke with a group of men about what it is like to be homeless around Christmas.

Dave has been off the streets for around seven years, but knows how hard a time Christmas can be.

He spent a couple of Christmases on the streets and said it often depends what you make of it.

“A lot of times it is quite fun. The amount of food that is getting around and the amount of fun that is created is quite pleasant.”

Despite that, Dave said there are a lot of people who find Christmas a hard time.

“It does get a bit dark. You tend to get a bit hateful towards a lot of things.”

He said the Christmas events churches and organisations plan give people hope that there are others who care that they are struggling.

Dave said the Christmas Day lunch was important, “Just to lift up the spirits of the people that are in that situation to give them hope and to try to motivate them to say, ‘Well next year we will do something better, we’ll do something for ourselves’ and try and get their lives back on track’.”

Warren agreed these events are important.

“Just so people know there is somebody out there that cares and somewhere to go and spend some time and share the day, have a bit of a smile,” he said.

Warren said even when people are invited to Christmas events in other’s homes, they may not feel comfortable attending.

“A lot of people know people and are invited to people’s places for Christmas lunch but they are too embarrassed to go because they have got no money or they feel like they are being a burden.

“Christmas is the saddest time for a lot of homeless people because they haven’t got any family about.
“A lot of people lock themselves in their rooms and wait for Christmas to be over and the New Year to come on.

People that don’t have anyone for Christmas find the meal pretty uplifting.”

Warren has served at the last two Wesley Mission Brisbane Christmas Lunches.

“It gets my mind off Christmas. It’s not my favourite time of year either,” he said.

“It’s getting pretty big. The more that know about it, the more happy cheery faces there will be.”

Many other Uniting Church organisations and other churches also provide assistance to people in need at Christmas.

Photo : Dave (left) with Wesley Mission Brisbane Minister Tim Hodgson and John (right). Photo by Mardi Lumsden