News 

Yarmouth charity struggles to find venue for Christmas dinner

31st July 2019
 
Daniel Hickey, Great Yarmouth Mercury, reports


OPEN CHRISTMAS 2018A belinda r

Open Christmas in Great Yarmouth on Christmas Day 2018. Picture: Belinda Roll
 



A Great Yarmouth charity is struggling to find a venue for its traditional Christmas Day event

OPEN CHRISTMAS 2018B belinda r


Open Christmas in Great Yarmouth on Christmas Day 2018. Picture: Belinda Roll
 



The planned closure of the Marina Centre this October means that Open Christmas has not yet found a host for its festive meal for those on their own, homeless, or struggling to make ends meet

The annual event has run for 21 years and traditionally been held at the Marina Centre on the Golden Mile - but the facility will be demolished later this year

The charity had lined up a replacement venue but that has fallen through

It needs seating for 350 people, a ground floor with wheelchair access, a production kitchen, parking, as well as access on Christmas Day and the days running up to the holiday

OPEN CHRISTMAS 2018C belinda r

 

Open Christmas in Great Yarmouth on Christmas Day 2018. Picture: Belinda Roll
 



Carole Beck, chairperson of the charity, said: "You feel for the people who look forward to coming each year”

"They come year on year”

"It really is the highlight of their year”

"Sometimes they book in June or July" she said

Despite the setback, Mrs Beck is hopeful the charity will find a new venue

She also said any new arrangement would be temporary, as the Marina Centre's owners have said the charity is welcome to return after the centre is rebuilt

"The Marina Centre was excellent for us" Mrs Beck said

"But we're hopeful, onwards and upwards"

Compounding the challenges faced by the charity, two of its committee members have had to stand down on health grounds

It is hoping to recruit two replacement volunteers

The event is funded entirely by donations from local businesses and individuals and has fed more than 6,000 people in need over the years

Along with a free hot meal, guests enjoy live music, a goodie-bag of food, bingo, a raffle, and free jumble sale

At last year's party, Mick Rudy, 49, attended the event for the first time

He said he was homeless on and off since he was 17 and would definitely be returning to the event this year

If anyone knows of a venue in Great Yarmouth which would meet the charity's criteria, you can email them at openchristmas.greatyarmouth@yahoo.co.uk or call 07523 888729

Visit their website www.openchristmasgreatyarmouth.org for more information

 


 


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Feedback:
Kevin Timewell-Read (Guest) 06/08/2019 19:00
If a large venue which meets the requirements is not available for Christmas 2019, would the organisers consider using two smaller venues with the necessary facilities (a church, church hall, community centre or parish hall) and split the event so that each location caters for 150 to 200 guests and volunteers.

Ideally have a venue north of the river serving Yarmouth, Caister, Hemsby, etc and one south of the river serving Gorleston, Bradwell, Hopton, etc. I realise that this would cause extra challenges in logistics and possibly require more volunteers but this arrangement would mean that this valuable service to the community would still be available in Great Yarmouth this Christmas.
Best wishes to all involved.
Carole (Guest) 08/08/2019 15:06
Thank you for this support.
We have had various suggestions as You might guess, all of which are worth discussing. We at Open Christmas will not let this event fade out but with the support of the community and ideas such as yours we will survive.

Many thanks,

Kind Regards

Carole on behalf of the Open Christmas Team