Come in from the cold…

On Christmas Day, local Oldham charity UKeff (the UK Education and Faith Foundation) will be welcoming those who are struggling at this time of year, to join them at their 6th annual Christmas Day breakfast and lunch. Hosted at the Oldham Unitarian Chapel, the day is organised and run entirely by the same UKeff volunteers who work tirelessly throughout the year on numerous projects, including the flagship Oldham Food Aid Hub.

Co-founder Nasim Ashraf commented, “For those of us who are able to enjoy the season, it really can be a wonderful time to spend with family and friends. Sadly, not everyone is fortunate to escape the skyrocketing utility bills, the increased cost of food and the additional stressors that often put families in challenging situations. Forced to stretch their budgets to the very max, many families make costly sacrifices, like going without food or heat.

“During the Christmas season we have been spreading the cheer with food parcels, hot food, presents, warm clothes, travel costs and even top ups for gas and electric meters. Preventing homelessness, deprivation, self-harm or even suicide, whilst addressing the peoples need in crisis is our primary objective.”

UKeff support a large number of needy families and individuals in the Oldham area. Service users come from a diverse range of socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicities and faiths. Amongst them are the homeless, asylum seekers, refugees, domestic abuse victims, substance users, destitute families and individuals, the elderly and lonely persons. The year-round problems are exacerbated at this time of year and the demand for this Christmas Day provision by UKeff is stronger than ever.

Community Engagement and Support Services Manager, and co-founder Ms Hafizan Zaman says UKeff will open their doors from 10.30am on Christmas morning, providing a warm, friendly welcome in a safe, comfortable setting. “We will serve hot drinks and snacks throughout the morning, providing company and the opportunity to socialise for some of the most isolated and vulnerable members of our community,” Ms Zaman added. “We will serve a freshly made turkey dinner, and vegetarian options, at 12.30pm, plus takeaways at the end of the day.”

The recent coverage of Oldham College students and the BBC visiting 78-year old Terrence in his Oldham home highlights the importance of reaching out to those who are alone and to make an extra effort to help.

UKeff’s Community Co-ordinator Aisha Abdulkarim noted, “We currently have over 160 Oldham families living in temporary accommodation, and most of these have no cooking facilities, with just one room and bathroom to share. Christmas is not a day to look forward to for families in this situation, it is more likely to be a day to dread. To be able to offer a day to people where these worries can be lifted, where the children will have presents, everyone can enjoy home-cooked food, and they can relax together in a safe, warm environment, is truly priceless and is surely the true essence of Christmas.”

Monetary and gift donations are gratefully accepted and can be made online at www.ukeff.org/donate or can be dropped off at the UKeff charity shop at 72 Yorkshire Street, Oldham, OL1 1SR.

If you know someone who is lonely or struggling please feel more than welcome to make a referral via the online referral form at www.ukeff.org/christmas19