Schools and a post office across the country will serve Christmas dinners with all the trimmings for children, parents and pensioners who might have missed out on lunch otherwise.
Volunteers including teachers will give up their time to serve 60 youngsters and their families at Park Community School in Havant, Hants, while Christ Church C of E First School in Frome, Somerset, will also make lunches for 30 people.
Postmistress Sonya Carey and her husband Nigel will also open their branch in Pontrilas, Herefordshire, and cook meals with food donated by local farmers.
Park Community School in Havant, Hants, will dish up dinners for 60 children and their families tomorrow and local firms have funded gifts and entertainment for the day
Soo Bannard has worked at the school for 22 years and will be serving food on Christmas Day
Local firms have funded gifts and entertainment for the gathering in Havant tomorrow, making sure it’ll be a day filled with fun for families on low incomes, reports the Mirror.
Charities praised the school’s good deed but the National Education Union said the fact they have to hold a dinner highlights ‘a frightening level of deep-rooted poverty’.
Head Teacher Christopher Anders said: ‘Christmas brings pressures for families on low incomes. On Christmas Day at least we will know they are well fed.’
In the lead up to Christmas the school also had a foodbank and award-winning initiative called Munch so that no youngster went hungry.
There was a different box every five days containing tins, items with long best-by dates and perishable items like fruit and veg.
On Friday Park Community School hosted a Christmas lunch for pupils and staff and the dining hall was decked out with festive table cloths, fairy lights and crackers.
Teachers and volunteers including, left to right Nigel Pritchard, Susan Parish and James Waterfield, will be there to help during the celebrations
Park Community School (pictured) also ran a foodbank in the lead up to Christmas
The school tweeted about the event saying: ‘Amazing set up as always by staff here at Park, everyone has and will work tirelessly to ensure all students & staff are well fed by the end of the day.’
Stephen Cross, who catered the event, also tweeted about the amazing day.
He said: ‘Christmas lunch ready! Free to all students and staff @ParkSchSocial best day of the year!! 1200 lunches in 5 sittings #LoveWhereYouWork #schoolfood #schoolchef’
Christ Church C of E First School in Frome, Somerset, will also open its doors on Christmas Day to serve a hot meal to families who face financial hardship and those who struggle with loneliness.
Frome Town Football Club in Somerset has hosted the Big Christmas Get-Together for eight years and this year the primary school will also take part due to high demand.
The Big Christmas Get-Together provides free food, transport, gifts and entertainment for more than 100 people who are alone at Christmas.
Christ Church C of E First School in Frome (pictured) is also helping families who face financial hardship and those who struggle with loneliness tomorrow by cooking a three-course meal
Volunteers across the country will cook Christmas lunch for families in need tomorrow (file picture)
The costs of the event are covered by donations and it is run by volunteers.
When Christ Church heard demand for the Frome Town FC event had ‘outstripped supply’, headteacher Rupert Kaye offered the school hall as an extra venue.
Christ Church said it will join the effort this year not just to help combat loneliness but also ‘the modern-day curses of food and energy poverty’.
Mr Kaye said some families in Frome cannot afford to heat or light their homes during the day, even during the winter months.
He said: ‘That means that some children will actually spend some days in the dark, huddled under a duvet.
‘We also know that some children will not eat a hot home-cooked meal for the whole of the two-week Christmas break.’
The school currently has 30 guests booked to attend its event and they will receive a three-course Christmas lunch. Frome Town FC will be at full capacity with 110 guests.
Postmistress, Sonya Cary (pictured) at the Pontrilas Post Office in Hereford, will be hosting a special lunch for those in the community who will be alone during the festive period
Mr Kaye added: ‘In addition, several school staff have already volunteered to come in on Christmas Day to set up, help out and tidy away afterwards.’
Christ Church School is based in one of the most deprived neighbourhoods in Somerset and the number of pupils receiving free school meals has risen from 40 per cent to 51 per cent in just 18 months, Mr Kaye said.
In a national survey, half of teachers said students in their school would go hungry this Christmas and 46 per cent said ‘holiday hunger’ had worsened since 2015, according to the National Education Union (NEU).
Kevin Courtney, joint general-secretary of the NEU, said: ‘Many children this Christmas will be left with no support or food. Schools will be sending children home with food parcels and some will be opening on Christmas Day.
‘This is not a problem that will go away and it is not a problem that will be resolved by spending some money over the summer holidays. The root causes of poverty must be addressed.’
A Post Office in Herefordshire is also offering a free Christmas Day dinner to people who would otherwise be alone.
Mrs Carey (pictured at the branch in Hereford) said the Post Office is the ‘glue’ to the community and she’ll spend the 25th giving back
Postmistress Sonya Carey and her husband Nigel will open their branch in Pontrilas and cook meals with food donated by local farmers.
The couple will even pick people up and take them to a cafe which runs alongside their branch.
Sonya Carey said: ‘My own family are all grown up and spend Christmas day with their own families which means I can spend the 25th giving back to our community.
‘Local residents have said that our Post Office is the glue to this community – and it’s hearing things like that that make our efforts all worthwhile.’
Tom Moran, Network Development Director at the Post Office said: ‘Our branches are at the heart of communities across the UK and we know how much people rely on our services in the run-up to Christmas.
‘Most people will of course be taking a well-deserved break to enjoy Christmas Day with family and friends.
‘So we’re extremely proud of people like Sonya who provide so much more than Post Office services to their customers, not just at Christmas but throughout the year.’
More than 60 million people are expected to have visited Post Offices by the end of the festive period, including many on Christmas Day.