Cost of living crisis: Wakefield's largest food pantry throws Christmas dinner for those in need of festive cheer

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Wakefield’s St Catherines Church and Community Centre is continuing to help those in need this Christmas following a free festive dinner and the opening of a warm space.

The Belle Vue centre’s Christmas meal took place today (December 20), with elderly and vulnerable people able to have a joy filled day without stress.

The free event, which was hosted by the centre's staff and volunteers, allowed visitors to tuck in to a roast dinner followed by cake and party games.

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Alongside being the district's largest food pantry, the centre has become a support hub in the community due to the help it provides to the vulnerable.

June Cole and Shannon Owen prepare for at Christmas meal St Catherines Food Pantry.June Cole and Shannon Owen prepare for at Christmas meal St Catherines Food Pantry.
June Cole and Shannon Owen prepare for at Christmas meal St Catherines Food Pantry.

Throughout the winter period, St Catherine's has found itself in high demand, as the centre is welcoming dozens more visitors due to the rising cost of living.

In response, the centre has announced the opening of a variety of clubs, events and spaces all of which aim to benefit and help those in need.

Most recently, the centre opened up a warm space every Tuesday and Wednesday that provides free hot drinks alongside games, charging ports and discounted food.

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The space allows isolated and vulnerable people who are struggling with the rising energy bill prices, access to somewhere they can feel safe, secure and amongst others in simialir situations.

Lisa Staggs at the St Catherines Food Pantry.Lisa Staggs at the St Catherines Food Pantry.
Lisa Staggs at the St Catherines Food Pantry.

Centre Manager, Lisa Grant said: "We wanted a place where people can come and chill out and be nice and warm, really, during the winter months.”

The centre also runs a daycare, mental health groups, a community choir, guitar sessions and an arts and crafts group as well as a food delivery service to those unable to get to the centre.

However, despite the centre's necessary work, their future is uncertain due to the high demand and lack of available funding.

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"I really worry about what will happen to the families that rely on us. Whether it's our elderly clients or whether it's food pantry clients or the guys that come into our mental health projects. What would happen to them if we were to go because there's so little provision out there for people. I worry about our isolated and vulnerable clients a lot if we weren't here.”

St Catherines is currently taking donations via Facebook.