A community-run café in Stanley is to put on a free lunch and programme of events on Christmas Day. Pact House will host a traditional Christmas meal from 1.00 pm. After the guests have enjoyed “Christmas dinner with all the trimmings”, there will be a Christmas-themed film and a quiz. There will be a buffet tea at around 6 pm.
Pact House, a charity run by volunteers, is a community café and resource centre. The charity, which provides cheap or free food and organises activities, is financed by donations from its users and from local businesses. A nearby Greggs sends the charity free food at the end of each day.
Pact House said recently, “Great news! Nobody in Stanley has to spend Christmas Day alone this year. Whether you live by yourself or family are away or working, come and spend a bit of time at Pact House. You can either volunteer to help or just come along and enjoy it.”
“Members of the emergency services who can’t be with their families will be popping in for lunch so it should be a great atmosphere.”
The volunteers stress that Pact House is not a food bank or a soup kitchen, but rather a café, community hub and meeting space. Pact House, which has around 20 volunteers and is housed in a former bank and second hand shop, has computer facilities, hosts community groups and puts on a weekly youth club. Every Wednesday, it provides a healthy communal meal for as many as 80 people.
Stanley Council has agreed to pay Pact House’s £10,000 annual lease for the next 10 years.
Volunteer Dave Clarke said, “When I am working I eat here and we want people to know this is somewhere for people to come because it is convenient and affordable.”
“One of the biggest things we have to conquer is the perception it is a food bank or soup kitchen.”
“What we are trying to do is create a buzzing community venue.”
Pact House’s youth club currently meets on Tuesday evenings, but it is hoped that in the New Year the club will take place on Friday and Saturday evenings as well. Youth worker Darren McMahon commented, “It gives the kids somewhere to be.”
“Most kids are not bad, just bored so we ask them what they want to do and what they need then we deliver it.”
Though the Christmas Day event is free, those who would like to attend should book a place by telephoning Tina Walters on 0797 038 3747.