Christmas Day meal for the homeless in Norwich

The kind-hearted folk of Norwich and surrounding areas have once again stepped into the breach to make Christmas Day a special occasion for the homeless and those on their own.

More than 300 guests are expected to enjoy Christmas Day at St Andrew's Hall in Norwich, with a hot meal, entertainment and a warm welcome.

This year will be the 19th that the Open Christmas volunteer team has organised the event.

Meals and transport are provided free of charge, guests are welcome to stay all day or come and go as they please, and no booking is required.

Open Christmas is run by a growing team of committed volunteers who help with food preparation, hall decoration, transport, entertainment, greeting guests and the many other tasks which need doing.

Linda Harper, who helps organise the event, said volunteers had once again come forward to help on Christmas Day. She said: 'We have already had a tremendous response from volunteers with enough coming forward by the beginning of November to run the event.'

Chapelfield shopping centre in Norwich is helping out at this year's event, but marketing manager Sheridan Smith said they were still discussing the details.

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She said: 'Last year we had Santa in the centre and asked Chapelfield customers to visit him and donate gifts to the homeless rather than receiving gifts themselves.

'The plan this year may be to have the Chapelfield info desk as a drop-off point for donations, an info stand about Norwich Open Christmas on the mall for a day or so, and a donation from Chapelfield.'

Donations of food, clothing, equipment, decorations and money come from individuals, church groups, local companies, schools, City College Norwich and retailers.

Entertainment can include carol singing, an organ recital, a quiz, bingo, country dancing, folk singers and solo artists.

Norwich Open Christmas runs from 11am to 5pm on Christmas Day in St Andrew's Hall.

Are you doing anything to help the homeless this Christmas? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email