Volunteers serve festive feast to those in need this Christmas: Volunteers serve festive feast

Tuesday 14 Dec 2021

Volunteers serve festive feast to those in need this Christmas

Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Western
| Wales & Western

Network Rail volunteers teamed up with British Transport Police and train operator MTR to host a Christmas meal for people experiencing homelessness at the Queens Arms pub in Reading, run by local charity New Beginnings.

On Monday (13 December), a team of volunteers from Network Rail, train operator MTR and the British Transport Police joined forces to cook a traditional Christmas dinner for people experiencing homelessness and hardship in Reading, Berkshire. Tuck shop donations collected at Network Rail’s Swindon office ensured that the volunteers could serve the festive feast to over 35 people.

The meal, featuring Christmas classics like pigs in blankets, turkey and cranberry sauce, was held at the Queens Arms pub on Great Knollys Street, not far from Reading station. The pub, run by local charity New Beginnings, is home to a number of services, including a shelter, an all-night café, an after school club that provides meals, clothing and support for parents, as well as a community fridge where people can collect free food in times of need.

Kimberley Carter, community safety manager for Network Rail, who organised the meal said: “As many of us look forward to spending Christmas with our families, for those who face a lonely and tough winter, the festive season can be particularly hard.

“Providing a hot meal and safe place can make a real difference to those who find themselves on the streets at Christmas. Being able to support those in need in Reading has been a really positive collaboration between the rail industry and New Beginnings, who provide services that are absolutely vital.

“Our company-wide Routes out of Homelessness campaign highlights just how important events like this can be to our communities and I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who volunteered their time to support such a worthwhile cause.”

BTP Embedded Inspector Darren Burridge said: “Tackling homelessness on the railway and helping those in need is a very important issue to us. We’re proud to team up with our rail industry and charity partners to provide hot food and help signpost those in need to the appropriate support and shelter over the Christmas period.”

Paul Parsons, director of customer experience at MTR Elizabeth line, said: “Serving our vast community – from Reading to Shenfield – is what we do; and we’re very happy to be supporting those who are in need a bit of care this Christmas.”

Louis Howard-Krelle, centre manager for New Beginnings said: "We truly can't thank the amazing team at Network Rail enough, who have kindly offered their time to bring our guests a wonderful Christmas meal.

“The festive season can be a very lonesome time for individuals across our community and indeed the UK. For others this time of year can be really tough for a myriad of reasons, but with such kind-hearted endeavours it can make such a difference."

To find out more about Network Rail’s Routes out of Homelessness campaign, please visit https://www.networkrail.co.uk/stories/railway-and-charities-join-forces-to-tackle-street-homelessness/

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