It will not be lonely this Christmas

CHRISTMAS is billed as one of the happiest times of year – but for many it can be torture.While children excitedly unwrap presents and families settle down to their Christmas dinners, being alone or homeless can be more painful than ever.

CHRISTMAS is billed as one of the happiest times of year – but for many it can be torture.

While children excitedly unwrap presents and families settle down to their Christmas dinners, being alone or homeless can be more painful than ever.

That's the word from Mary Gregg, 45, of Severn Road, Ipswich, who is not married and whose mother and siblings are in Trinidad.

But Burlington Baptist Church Hall will once more open its doors on Christmas Day – and will provide a slap-up roast turkey dinner and general festive fun for people who would otherwise be alone.

Miss Gregg, co-ordinating the event, said: "I am on my own – all my family are in Trinidad. Quite often on Christmas Day I would go to Trinidad or to friends.

"But Trinidad is far away, so I know what it is like not to be able to get home. I know what it is like not to have loved ones around."

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Burlington Baptist Church's minister, Rev. Simon Harris, said: "The Christmas period heightens all the emotions people feel and the loneliness the people feel.

"It is supposed to be a happy time and a family time, so if you haven't got people to share it with or if you are lonely, it makes it difficult to bear.

"That makes doing things at Christmas more important than at other times of the year.

"The [open door event] expresses what, at the heart, Christmas is all about."

Burlington Baptist Church has been running the event for around 12 years. This year the organisers are expecting around 60 people.

Miss Greg said: "We get people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and even their 60s. We get people who are homeless or who are alone or who use the soup kitchen.

"Last year I just helped, but this year I am co-ordinating it. It is the most worthwhile thing I have ever done on Christmas Day.

"It is for anyone who is on their own or for people who are homeless. It is so there is somewhere warm and comfortable for them to go.

"We invite people to come in from about 11 o'clock – they can have a cup of tea, a snack and a drink. There will be people from the Ipswich Volunteer Bureau welcoming and chatting to people.

"The meal is served around 12.30pm – we do turkey with all the veg and all the trimmings and a Christmas pudding. We also give them a doggy bag for the evening.

"We have carol singing, a table tennis board and a couple of other games."

The open door event is taking place on Christmas Day at Burlington Baptist Church Hall, Burlington Road, Ipswich. People are invited to attend from 11am and a traditional Christmas Dinner will be served.

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