On Christmas Day we opened up our facilities at Broadhurst Park to provide breakfast, dinner, entertainment and vital services for more than 100 special guests from the local community.
Thanks to the voluntary effort of dozens of individuals and organisations, we provided some Christmas cheer and comforts for families and individuals from the local community who might not be as fortunate as others.
We had 107 guests mainly from north-east Manchester but also from Rusholme and some from the city centre. One mum from Ancoats said of the day: "This is the safest and most loved we have felt for a long long time."
Throughout November and December we’ve been collecting clothing, toys and games, plus some everyday essentials, some of these are for Big Coat Day, where we distribute warm clothing and materials to the homeless and those that need them, but the rest was for Christmas Comforts.
We spent weeks putting it together and on Christmas Eve volunteers worked a 12 hour day starting at 7am, then again on Christmas Day they began at 7am and finished around 5pm. More than 50 volunteers gave their time in shifts with some covering the whole day.
A young volunteer refereed a 5-a-side Christmas Day kickabout for parents and children on the 3G for some fresh air fun and energy release. Inside there was a gaming area, crafting tables, board games, karaoke, Disney films on the big telly, face painting and a table for kids to wrap presents for their parents, the presents having been donated by the FC United supporters.
All guests had access to a toy mountain for the children to take away as well as wrapped Christmas presents from Santa. All received toiletries packs and essential fruit and food packs to take back to their accommodations.
Additionally, access was provided to clothes for all family members and school uniforms for the kids that needed them. Children were given access to new pyjamas and nightwear.
Other practical help was also available, there was access to dental and nursing advice and check ups including blood pressure tests. Where needed, pathways to help were given to ensure there was additional support. We also had a barber doing Christmas haircuts and getting everyone looking sharp.
There was a coach provided for pick ups and drop offs and even an volunteer picking people up and returning them to their accommodations. We also provided all the food for Christmas dinner for a local sheltered housing project near to the ground. All food that wasn’t consumed went to two other projects. Even the food waste from plates went to a farm for animal feed.
One mother had been worried that she could only afford a few pound shop toys for her boys and couldn’t believe the generosity of our fans and families.
So thank you to everyone who contributed something in any way shape or form, when many people get together they can achieve anything, and doing that for those less fortunate around us is the definition of community.
Ultimately, it was a beautiful day with magnificent graft put in by all with excellent results in these sadly hard times.
Thank you again to the 50 volunteers who supported the day with their time and labour, anyone who contributed any items or money towards the day, and our sponsors and the organisations who supported the day:
Sheridan Lifts as Main Sponsor
MCC Homeless Unit
Bailey’s Turkeys of Tabley
Organic Soul Food
The Myriad Foundation