Birmingham New St station transformed into dining hall to give 200 rough-sleepers festive meal 

A railway station was transformed into a dining hall on Christmas Eve to allow 200 homeless people to have a festive dinner.

The free yuletide party was held at Birmingham New Street station yesterday and included a three-course banquet at a round-table area set-up in a busy part of the station.

Carol singers, a DJ, and Santa made an appearance at the event arranged by Sikh group the Midlands Langar Seva Society and supported by Network Rail.

New Street Station in Birmingham was transformed into a dining hall for 200 homeless people to enjoy a Christmas feast

New Street Station in Birmingham was transformed into a dining hall for 200 homeless people to enjoy a Christmas feast

New Street Station in Birmingham was transformed into a dining hall for 200 homeless people to enjoy a Christmas feast

The night, which also had a moving choral performance, saw the homeless people enjoy the food and come together with volunteers in a bid to fight loneliness and isolation at Christmas. 

Randhir Singh, chief executive of the society, said: ‘Midlands Langar Seva Society are out seven nights a week, not only across Birmingham but across the UK.

‘Our main purpose is to serve humanity and serve hot meals to people less fortunate than ourselves, give out hats, clothes and warm clothing and give hope.

‘Every year around about a week before Christmas we start giving out Christmas presents and cards.

‘A lot of people around this time of year start missing their families, they experience depression and the suicide rate is quite high as well.

‘Tonight we are putting on a three-course, sit down Christmas meal and giving out Christmas presents, with one of the managers of Network Rail dressing as Santa.

‘It’s their night and we are making it special for them.’

The event was arranged by Sikh group the Midlands Langar Seva Society and supported by Network Rail

The event was arranged by Sikh group the Midlands Langar Seva Society and supported by Network Rail

The event was arranged by Sikh group the Midlands Langar Seva Society and supported by Network Rail

The free yuletide party included a three-course banquet for the rough sleepers who attended

The free yuletide party included a three-course banquet for the rough sleepers who attended

The free yuletide party included a three-course banquet for the rough sleepers who attended

One of the homeless people attending the event was Louise Gall, who sat down with friends and was served food  by volunteers in festive dress.

Louise, 41, said: ‘What they have done for us is amazing. 

‘I live on the streets and without this I wouldn’t have had a Christmas meal, the only way I could have had a hot meal would be by begging on the streets.

‘I spent last night sleeping outside the station where the bikes are stored, it was freezing cold.

‘It’s amazing what they have done for the homeless.’

The homeless people enjoyed the food and came together with volunteers in a bid to fight loneliness and isolation at Christmas

The homeless people enjoyed the food and came together with volunteers in a bid to fight loneliness and isolation at Christmas

The homeless people enjoyed the food and came together with volunteers in a bid to fight loneliness and isolation at Christmas

Carol singers, a DJ, and Santa also made an appearance at the free yuletide event on Christmas Eve

Carol singers, a DJ, and Santa also made an appearance at the free yuletide event on Christmas Eve

Carol singers, a DJ, and Santa also made an appearance at the free yuletide event on Christmas Eve

The society was inspired to host the event after it had noticed how many homeless people missed their families and felt isolated from society in general.

Numbers of homeless people are said to be at crisis levels by national charities and the society says it has seen this in its day-to-day work.

Mr Singh said: ‘We are getting busier and busier. The people we see here tonight are just our service users, and we recognise 90 per cent of them.

‘Through this Christmas dinner and with the support of Network Rail, we have been able to make it a bit special for them.’ 

Round tables were decked out with donated food and soft drinks, including Christmas crackers.

The round tables were decked out with donated food and soft drinks, including Christmas crackers

The round tables were decked out with donated food and soft drinks, including Christmas crackers

The round tables were decked out with donated food and soft drinks, including Christmas crackers

The event came about after the society had noticed how many homeless people missed their families and felt isolated from society

The event came about after the society had noticed how many homeless people missed their families and felt isolated from society

The event came about after the society had noticed how many homeless people missed their families and felt isolated from society

The spirit of Christmas was alive and well at the event, which saw carols sung by a choir from the Black Country

The spirit of Christmas was alive and well at the event, which saw carols sung by a choir from the Black Country

The spirit of Christmas was alive and well at the event, which saw carols sung by a choir from the Black Country

Craig Stenning, deputy station manager, said: ‘It’s about giving back to the community.

‘As well as the meal there are some presents that have been donated by the retailers in the station.

‘We are at the heart of the community and this is about giving back to the most lonely and vulnerable people in our society.

‘For the staff here it’s worth it to see the guests having a nice time.’ 

Carols at the Christmas dinner were sung by a choir from the Black Country and DJ Sat of Paradigm Entertainment.

The society, which won a TSB Local Pride of Birmingham Award in April 2017, is a non-profit organisation that aims to help the homeless and provide food to those in need.

Langar is a Sikh and Punjabi term for a communal free kitchen.  

Link hienalouca.com

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