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The woman who serves Christmas dinner for 60 people in need

Words by Abi Scaife

For many of us, Christmas Day is about downtime. It’s about relaxing in our PJs, spending time with family members, and forgetting about the world outside our own homes.

For Caroline Morris, it’s a completely different story.

Caroline and her husband first hosted Christmas for their community several years ago, and since then the celebration has only grown bigger. With the exception of 2020, when Covid-19 restrictions prevented them from hosting their gathering, each year Caroline expects upwards of 50 attendees. That’s a lot of sprouts!

“It's the full Christmas Day experience,” says Caroline, with a laugh. “We have the starter, the main course, and then fill up with cheese and mince pies - and if you waddle home, that's fine!”

For Caroline, who is 58 and is the Chief Executive of GAIN (a charity supporting people with inflammatory neuropathies), providing for others on Christmas day doesn’t feel like ‘giving up’ her Christmas - on the contrary, it makes it. 

“I think we get as much if not more fun out of the day than some of the people that we're feeding,” admits Caroline. 

Caroline and her husband cook for adults with learning disabilities, elderly people who may be lonely on Christmas Day, and people experiencing homelessness in her area. They also have people who are sick or, particularly this year, simply cannot afford their own Christmas meals this year.

Her homemade bread is the biggest hit of the day, with Caroline commenting that there may well be ‘some kind of war break out’ if it isn’t present on the table. And it should be popular - Caroline begins making the bread in the wee hours of Christmas morning, after getting home from midnight mass.

But Caroline doesn’t just serve dinner - their church hall is decked to the nines with Christmas crackers on the table, and somehow she even finds the time to deliver Christmas dinner to those who, for whatever reason, cannot come in person.

Aside from a small stipend from her local council, which has been matched by an anonymous donor, and some support with produce from farming friends, Caroline pays for this Christmas bash almost entirely out of her own pocket. 

“We do ask for people if they are able to make a small contribution of up to five pounds,” says Caroline, who also ensures there is a healthy supply of alcohol to go around. “But if if they can't afford five pounds, it doesn't matter to us, they still get to eat and drink. But if they can … [for] some of the people that come it's not financial, it's loneliness.”

Luckily, Caroline and her husband have a few volunteers to help them out - people from their church, friends, and sometimes others who are lonely at Christmas and enjoy the atmosphere.

“Actually, in some ways I get so much from [giving] as well,” admits Caroline. “I get that sense of … we have a sense of fun and a sense of purpose - it makes us happy to be with all those people.”

For Caroline, giving is in the spirit of Christmas - giving time, giving money, and giving love. 

“There are so many organisations out there that would love to have volunteers for Christmas. They need, volunteers and not just people that can slice a few carrots, you know, some of them … want people with a skill set,” explains Caroline. “Whether you might be a hairdresser or a doctor or a nurse … because when these people come in for their meals, some of them also can get a short back and sides.”

To donate to Caroline’s JustGiving and help her to support her community this Christmas, visit the crowdfunding page here.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Zero Hunger and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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