Gareth Smyth, manager of the East Coast Diner in Millisle and In the Name of Cod in Bangor, is just one of dozens who are working extra hard to bring festive cheer to the lonely and cash strapped.
“The more we can feed the better,” he said.
He was prompted to act after reading of someone suffering financial pressures who took their life during the 2020 pandemic.
“The more I looked at social media the more I saw people that were depressed about not being able to afford Christmas. And I thought, ‘Well do you know what - I can help’. So we did about 120 dinners last year and this year the demand is phenomenal as well. The amazing level of donations we have had is helping deliver more dinners than ever.
“It might not have changed the world of people last year, but it definitely changed their day.”
One young family phoned yesterday to ask if he could help them.
“The young mother said her benefits have been cut by £50 a week and that they were just struggling. She said they just about have enough to buy presents this year but asked if they were eligible for the Christmas dinners? The answer is that everybody is eligible.”
Please call the relevant number below at the earliest chance to check availability if you need a dinner. Many venues are making home deliveries this year due to Covid;-
• Bangor, Donaghadee, Carrowdore, Millisle, Carradore. Call Gareth Smyth on 077 123 506 25 by 10pm tonight.
• South Armagh - Crossfire Trust, Darkley. Tel 028 37531636.
• Belfast - Common Grounds Belfast - 12-24 University Avenue. Tel 028 9023 8443 Halal and veggie options available.
• Belfast - Salvation Army, Belfast Temple, dinner deliveries. Tel 028 9045 4466 to check availability.
• Magherafelt - First Magherafelt Presbyterian Church deliveries. Call Melanie on 07895 973 956.
• Cookstown - The Hub at 14 Burn Road. Dinner deliveries. Call 028 86763398.
• Whitehead - Whitehead Methodist Church. Deliveries for Whitehead, Islandmagee, Ballycarry areas. Tel Noel on 0792 6361201.
• Kilkeel - Kingdom Youth Club, 10 Dunnaval Road, tel 028 417 63 681.
• Dundalk - Sitar Indian Restaurant - Free takeaways from 5pm-8pm.
Send any further venues to [email protected] to be added online. Tesco says Lagan Valley shoppers have donated 2,700 meals to charity this Christmas, with North Antrim donating 4,200 meals and Belfast 12,000.
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