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‘I wasn’t looking forward to Christmas alone’ - Town rallies around isolated members of community over Christmas

PUBLISHED: 14:43 25 December 2018 | UPDATED: 14:43 25 December 2018

Christine Oakman at The Salvation Army Christmas Lunch, Lowestoft. Photo: James Carr.

Christine Oakman at The Salvation Army Christmas Lunch, Lowestoft. Photo: James Carr.

Archant

The most vulnerable and isolated members of the Lowestoft community were given a Christmas to remember this year.

The Salvation Army Christmas Lunch, Lowestoft. Photo: James Carr.The Salvation Army Christmas Lunch, Lowestoft. Photo: James Carr.

More than 100 people enjoyed Christmas dinner together at The Salvation Army Citadel in Battery Green Road.

For Christine Oakman the dinner provides a much needed respite from the loneliness the holiday season can bring.

On December 2, the 69-year-old lost her husband Michael – who had been suffering from dementia.

She said: “I wasn’t looking forward to having Christmas alone. A friend found out about this and brought me down today.

Cooks Roberto and Helen Menegaello at The Salvation Army Christmas Lunch, Lowestoft. Photo: James Carr.Cooks Roberto and Helen Menegaello at The Salvation Army Christmas Lunch, Lowestoft. Photo: James Carr.

“I’ve really enjoyed it; I have had a wonderful time. There are a lot of people who sit indoors and have Christmas alone.

“Maybe they are like me; they have lost their husband and don’t have any children.

“It’s very lonely to just sit alone and watch your television.”

She added: “This is something to cheer you up and make you feel wanted.”

The Christmas meal helps support the homeless, people who are lonely or isolated and families in need.

Along with Christmas dinner each guest receives a goodie bag filled with Christmas food and toiletries.

And is treated to entertainment courtesy of a Christmas carol service and brass band performance.

Roberto Menegaello volunteers in the kitchen at the Salvation Army each Tuesday and offered a helping hand to cook Christmas dinner.

Mr Menegaello said: “It says a lot about Lowestoft - all of these people coming in for this because they have nowhere else to go.

“I’m glad we can help them all out but it looks like it is getting more and more in Lowestoft.”

The cook added: “This would not be possible without a team of people coming out to help.

“The Salvation Army is giving a lot of people something special today because it is a special day.

“This is for the whole community, not just the homeless.”

One volunteer who was giving up her time to help those in need was Angela Lucas.

Ms Lucas, who is from Corton, said she was inspired to lend a hand in order to help the homeless people in the town.

She said: “So many people are homeless in this county and they have nowhere to go - this is just about helping people.”

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