Two weeks and a few days to Christmas Ben’s Centre is holding its own Christmas celebration early this year. We are off to Sheffield Botanical Gardens ‘Magical Christmas’ (Christmas Lights etc) followed by a traditional meal and presents under the tree this Saturday evening, so please spare us a thought. We decided to move Christmas forward and away from the project. This will allow our service users to choose if they would like to be involved. Christmas is a really difficult time and our usual Christmas meal as Sue has shared with you is often very sober in mood. Most people on the streets freak out at even the thought of Christmas. They begin to fret about it in early October and really become very unsettled about the fact that the festive season is looming on the horizon. By the time the real festivities begin they seem to resign themselves to the fact that’s its happening and they ‘dig into their trenches’ and try and cope with it all. Some join in. Alcohol does have its benefits it can in the short term block out the acute pain, the memories and will eventually bring on that illusive sleep. All just try and cope with the feelings of isolation, emotions and the great sense of loss that this time brings to them of Christmas past, present and the Future.

Well these are our plans; everyone is invited to attend Ben’s Centre, early evening on Saturday. They are not to be too intoxicated and will not be able to take any alcohol with them, which is quite a challenge for some people, but not insurmountable, it’s a good opportunity that we can have a good time without the aid of alcohol. We will open the centre an hour before we set off and if people choose to; they can come early and spruce up using our clothing store, toiletries and cosmetics (the girls in particular will have great fun.) We will set off together with members of staff & volunteers and walk up to the Botanical Gardens, spend roughly an hour looking round the lights, and then off to a home cooked meal with all the usual trimmings. Our aim for the evening is to provide a safe place where each person will know that they are valued and that they do in fact belong, it may be to an unusual family at Ben’s Centre, but a community never the less and hopefully we may be able to give them some positive memories of their own, that can help them some way through the festive holidays. We will share some photos next week.