HOMELESS shelter Christmas Care is in crisis after incoming donations reached an all-time low.
For 25 years the shelter has offered food, blankets and shelter for up to 70 people who are homeless or on low incomes from December 24 to 28.
But this year has seen a big drop in the amount of food being offered combined with a chronic lack of people coming forward to offer help, leaving the cupboards and freezers bare.
Chairman Patsy Moloney believes the shortages could have a devastating effect and is pleading with people to donate or volunteer.
He said: “We are facing a real crisis this time and are in danger of not being able to help people who have come to rely on what we do at Christmas. “We usually have so much at this time of year and are in a good place but the last two collections we have done have been really slack.
“We have had mountains of bedding and we have no more room for it but we only have enough food for one day.
“This happened three or four years ago and people came forward at the last minute after we sent out an appeal.”
Patsy believes that the lack of donations is a result of similar appeals from other charities as times have become increasingly tough.
He said: “There are so many people looking for sponsorship and, with the disaster in the Philippines, people’s pockets aren’t limitless.
“This time last year I had all the lunch fillings there and the freezers were full.
“I really hope the public will come forward to help or there is a chance that people will go hungry at Christmas.”
The Bishop of Swindon, Dr Lee Rayfield, said: “Most years there is a little bit of anxiety when the food hasn’t arrived by a couple of weeks before Christmas. “But this year with only a week to go it’s quite serious. “The people of Swindon have stepped up to help fantastically in the past and I am sure that when they hear about this they will come to the aid of Christmas Care and help some of the most vulnerable people in Swindon to have a good Christmas.”
From 11am on Christmas Eve to 11am on December 28 people who are homeless, living in sheltered accommodation or on low incomes can turn up, shower, help themselves to bedding and clothes and enjoy as much food as they like while they are at the shelter.
They also have an opportunity for a chiropodist to look at their feet and to get a haircut.
Patsy said: “It’s like a little hotel. “At the end of the week any clothing left over after everyone has taken what they want goes to countries that need it, so nothing is wasted. “Leftover food is taken down to the Salvation Army who use it in their soup kitchen.”
For information contact Patsy on 01793 642368,visit www.christmascare.co.uk or the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ ChristmasCareSwindon.
When you can donate
The Christmas Care shelter in Swindon cannot accept any more bedding, but it is desperate for donations of food for sandwich fillings as well as blocks of cheese, bags of potatoes, carrots, parsnips and other vegetables, bacon, eggs, and sausages.
Donations can only be received on the following occasions at the Queen’s Drive Methodist Church:
- December 19, 2pm - 3pm
- December 20, noon - 2pm
- December 21, noon - 3pm
- December 22, 2pm - 3pm
- December 23, 9am - 2pm
- December 24, open all day