Published: 16:23, 06 December 2018
| Updated: 16:25, 06 December 2018
With plummeting temperatures and the nights closing in many people will be looking forward to the warmth of their homes and the companionship of family and friends that Christmas will bring.
But for the homeless and vulnerable the holiday season is too often a time of great suffering.
Fortunately, thanks to the tireless work of organisations such as Homeless Care, which runs the Maidstone Day Centre in Knightrider Street, those on the brink are offered help, support and, most importantly, hope.
For another year the Kent Messenger is backing the charity with its You Can Help campaign to secure vital donations of food so people who are most in need can keep going and get their lives back on track.
Last year the campaign brought in a staggering 30,000 items.
Homeless Care has come a long way since beginning as a soup run started by former head of Maidstone Grammar School for Girls Patricia McCabe and a group of her pupils in 1986.
The Day Centre now offers a wide range of services including GP and mental health clinics, home cooked meals, hot showers, and laundry.
The centre also helps people with claiming benefits, dealing with personal problems such as health issues, obtaining identity documents and finding accommodation.
Each day the centre helps around 40 people.
Around 80% suffer from mental health issues while 60% struggle with alcohol and drug problems.
Maidstone Day Centre Manager Zofia Grzymala said: “We had a fantastic response to our appeal last year and we are hoping that this year’s will be equally good.”
Trustee Angela Clay said: “I want to say a big thank you to all the people in our community who help to fill our store cupboards over the festive period. “Your kindness enables us to provide good home cooked meals for our homeless men and women and also food parcels for those in our community who would otherwise go hungry.”
Lending a helping hand to people without a home this Christmas could hardly be easier.
Several local supermarkets which collect for Maidstone Homeless Care and its food bank, Food For Thought, all year round are providing their usual collection points while the Kent Messenger offices at 6 and 7 Middle Row, Maidstone will also accept donations.
The day centre is in need of tinned fruits, vegetables and meat, cooking oil, non-alcoholic drinks, squash, coffee, and all non-perishable food.
Collection points can be found in Sainsbury in Romney Place, Maidstone, Sainsbury’s in Mills Road, Larkfield, Morrison’s in Sutton Road, Maidstone, and Waitrose in Allington Park. The campaign is also being supported by eight schools, three churches, three GP surgeries, and The Mall in Pad’s Hill Maidstone.
To find out more about Homeless Care or the Maidstone Day Centre please visit www.homelesscare.org.uk