North Tyneside charity to provide free Christmas dinner to veterans

A charity based in North Tyneside is providing a free meal on Christmas Day to veterans and members of the community.

Forward Assist will serve a free Christmas lunch ensuring everyone gets a hot meal over the festive period.

Paula Edwards, women’s veterans project leader, said: “The Christmas dinners provide a place for vulnerable and isolated veterans and members of the community with no family to spend Christmas.”

Kevin Meek, who served in the forces for two years, attends Forward Assist twice a week. He said: “I came on Christmas day last year, I had nowhere else to go.

“Forward assist gives me a feeling of companionship, its like a feeling of being back in the army, like a family.”

To raise enough money for the Christmas day meal to go ahead, the charity held their annual Christmas Dinner fundraiser on December 11, 2018, at Salute café, John Willie Sams centre, Dudley.

Sixty full Christmas dinners and desserts were prepared and served to veterans and members of the community at around 12pm.

Both Sage and Newcastle College donated Christmas hampers which were distributed amongst those that attended.

Tickets cost £5 and all money raised went towards ensuring a free meal can be provided on Christmas.

Forward Assist’s priority is to support veterans who are socially disadvantaged and help them transition positively into the civilian world after service. Paula Edwards said: “Many veterans are misunderstood by the community.

“The dinner is a way to bring together veterans and members of the community. It’s a safe place for them to engage with each other, reducing social isolation and getting veterans involved in community participation.”

She describes the work of the charity as “inspirational and ground breaking.”

Paul Fenech, a veteran who has been attending forward assist since it started, said he enjoys going: “I don’t have to pretend, I can be myself. It’s a safe place.”

To book your place at the Christmas meal contact The Social Connections team on 07342800269 or email socailconnectionsnortheast@gmail.com

The meal will be held at Salute café, John Willie Sams Centre, Dudley, On Christmas Day at 12pm

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