A café owner and her team of volunteers will be rolling up their sleeves on Christmas Day to help combat loneliness and isolation among the elderly in Peterlee.
Café Eden, located in the heart of Castle Dene Shopping Centre, is proving it really is the season of good will by serving up a free turkey dinner and all the trimmings to local residents who might not have anyone to join them round the Christmas dinner table this year.
Café owner Heidi Pratt has recruited ten volunteers to help serve the 55 guests, as well as a team of drivers to ensure all everyone can get there and back for free.
Heidi said: “Christmas is a wonderful time of year for many of us, but unfortunately for a minority it can be a really lonely experience.
“I decided to open Christmas Day when I realised a few of my regulars had spent Christmas alone last year. Christmas should be a happy time for everyone, not just those with families around them.”
Dinner is being served at 12pm and Castle Dene is offering free parking to all guests who choose to drive.
Suzanne Chaney, centre manager at Castle Dene, will also be joining in with the festivities.
She said: “I am proud to have such loyal retailers that are so committed to our local community and I will be joining Heidi and the team on Christmas Day for an afternoon of festive fun.
“With over 9 million people suffering from loneliness in the UK at present, it is important that we raise awareness and help those around us.
“Heidi has done a superb job in organising this and I am looking forward to it being an annual occurrence.”
Café Eden is funding the entire event and has received many gifts from the public for guests on the day.
Heidi added: “It could have been years since some of the guests have exchanged gifts with loved ones, so it will be fantastic to give everyone a small present on the day too.”