Railway station stages Christmas Day banquet for London's homeless

Hundreds of homeless people tucked in to a free Christmas dinner served by volunteers as London's Euston station opened its doors for a festive treat.

Some 200 homeless people will spend the day with their bellies full of food and Christmas songs ringing in their ears thanks to a partnership between charities and Network Rail.

On the menu was a four-course lunch including a roast dinner, smoked salmon, soup and Christmas pudding, enjoyed as the tinkling of a piano playing festive classics echoed through the concourse.

Dozens of tables with white tablecloths and red poinsettia plants filled the usually bustling concourse, empty of travellers for one day only.

Steve Naybour, from Network Rail, came up with the idea with three colleagues.

It was a privilege to provide lunch to people "who may not have expected anything a few days ago", he said.

He added: "We've had 45 companies that have come to us - Pret, Leon - we've had really, really nice support from companies giving us thermal socks, giving us hats, giving us coats, giving us sleeping bags, jeans, we've got an awful lot from companies coming forward."

Dozens of volunteers from the rail company, St Mungo's homelessness charity and Streets Kitchen are giving up their time to ensure the event runs smoothly.

Rebecca Sycamore, director of development at St Mungo's, said: "There are loads of volunteers here today who have given up their time to make sure the guests get an amazing welcome, I think a lot of thought has been put into making people feel really special and we are really happy to be part of it and to have invited clients living in our hostels and temporary accommodation so that they really get to have a really lovely Christmas Day."

The guests she had spoken to were "enjoying being around other people and having something to look forward to on Christmas morning", she said.

She added: "We all can see in our communities that homelessness is increasing and that people are really struggling.

"There's lots of issues that surround that, poor mental health, physical health, relationship breakdown, and obviously it's really, really difficult time.

"Being homeless is tough enough, but at Christmas I think we can all try and imagine what it would be like not to have anything and really understand why it's so important that events like this are happening."

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS