It’s our last day and Wendy; our manager has been in very early to put the Turkey in the oven. It’s our Christmas dinner today and already lovely aromas are filling the Centre. We have laid the tables and for this one meal we join them altogether so we can see everyone and have a sense of family. They look so lovely and the client’s coming in seem pleased that we have made such an effort for them. Staff and volunteers have all been working hard to make the dinner a special time. As I have mentioned before there always is heaviness in the air as Christmas brings up so many memories for people. It seems to highlight their position very starkly. Some just want it to be over as quickly as possible and they can get back to their “normal” life.Even though they may not like all that Christmas brings up for them everyone enjoys the amazing meal. A silence descends whilst they are eating and a measure of peace too. We give out the gifts we have for them and hope that they know how much they are loved and cared for by our team at Bens. For most of the men we have bought them aftershave and one that seems “cool”, or whatever the “in” word is this year. It may seem an odd gift to give to many who are on the street but it is that very reason that we are looking at them as men and not “rough sleepers” that makes it successful. For a couple of the men we know that they would not use or appreciate this so we have bought a history book and a small radio.

The ladies are much easier to buy for. We have bought them perfume, Victoria Beckham’s latest! They all seem so pleased and grateful for the gifts and the Christmas party.

One of the men has arranged a Pool knockout competition. A lot of our clients are really good players. Some manage to play when they are intoxicated and often cannot play as well when they are sober! It is a huge success and something we will have to repeat. There is a serious competition going on. The winner is delighted and for that moment tastes success, something very rare in their lives. Please see the photo.sammi-our-winner.jpg

And so the year ends for Ben’s Centre. It’s very sad saying goodbye to them all knowing that this will be all most will have of Christmas that is good. At this point the staff are feeling quite sad but we have to look back on what has been an amazing year with so many of our clients moving forward and trying new things. We do too need to recharge our batteries, to be ready for the many challenges that 2008 will bring.

We would like to wish you all a Peaceful and Joyful Christmas and also to thank many of you for being so willing to encourage us and be so open to look at the work we do. A big thanks you and please do keep logging on and perhaps passing our blog address on too!