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Norwich Christmas charity lunch gets boost from shopping centre

PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 December 2010

Linda and Colin Harper with just some of the donations of sleeping bags and food for the Norwich Open Christmas dinner

Linda and Colin Harper with just some of the donations of sleeping bags and food for the Norwich Open Christmas dinner

©Archant Photographic 2010

Christmas has come early for the organisers of a festive feast for the homeless and vulnerable after a Norwich shopping centre agreed to donate food, decorations and sleeping bags.

For the past two decades Norwich Open Christmas has provided a hot meal, entertainment and a warm welcome for homeless and lonely people with a Christmas Day dinner at St Andrew’s Hall.

The event, which takes place between 11am and 5pm, caters for a wide range of people of all ages including those that are homeless and those who dread being alone following a bereavement or break up.

And this year organisers Colin and Linda Harper have been given a helping hand for the event from Chapelfield Shopping Centre.

Store bosses will be donating around £500 worth of food as well as other festive items to ensure that those who attend have a Christmas cracker of a day.

A spokesman for Chapelfield said: “We’ve got a whole pile of canned goods and all kinds of things for them together with some Christmas decorations so they can make St Andrew’s Hall nice and festive.

“We’re also giving them a gift card to get some sleeping bags as well. We’re very happy to help.”

Mrs Harper said: “We are extremely pleased because to continue running the event, which is in its 19th year, we rely entirely on donations whether they large and small and for a large complex like Chapelfield to be supporting us is fantastic.”

It is not the first time Chapelfield has helped the event. Last year shopping centre bosses encouraged visitors to leave gifts under the tree at near the House of Fraser at Chapelfield which Santa then collected to give to the charity.

Shoppers were asked to donate things like small Christmas puddings, biscuits, small fruit cakes, small tins of fruit salad, jars of jam or marmalade, small jars of coffee, small boxes of tea bags, bags of sugar, packets of soup and a range of other edible items.

The spokesman said: “The idea was that shoppers could give a gift to Santa for the homeless rather than Santa giving them gifts which was very nice. But we felt this year we would give them the £500 instead.”

About 400 guests come from all over Norwich and the surrounding area and from all walks of life to the event.

<t> If you would like to be a guest at Norwich Open Christmas and need transport to the halls on the day, or would like to find out more about the event log onto www.openchristmas.org.uk

<t> Are you doing something to ensure that bereaved or vulnerable people have a happy Christmas? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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