Belfast Telegraph

Hundreds volunteer to feed needy at Common Grounds cafe in Belfast

By Lesley Houston

The true spirit of Christmas has been awakened among legions of volunteers who are foregoing festive cheer with their families to help ensure strangers get a decent meal.

Common Grounds cafe in Belfast has been staggered by the number of people who have offered to serve turkey at its annual Christmas Day dinner - free of charge to those most in need.

Halal and vegetarian options will be available at the University Avenue venue for between 70 and 120 refugees, asylum seekers and homeless people who have been availing of the festive boon for the past seven years.

The meal, being served from noon until 3pm, is being offered by the cafe and nearby City Church, an inter-denominational place of worship.

Cafe manager Daniel Black described the response to this year's appeal for volunteers as "phenomenal".

"Hundreds of people have offered to volunteer on the day and others have given us food and treats," he said.

So much cash had been received that the organisers have been able to set aside a tidy sum for next year's event.

The day's festivities are being managed by cafe director Philip King, who said: "With more and more people struggling to make ends meet and with an increase in people sleeping rough, we're expecting a big crowd this year."

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