“We want to transform our church and make it a family atmosphere.”
That’s the promise from organisers of a brand-new Christmas Day event in Woodley, aimed at ensuring no one spends the big day on their own.
Christ Church in Crockhamwell Road is expecting to entertain 40 people on Wednesday, December 25.
Members of the joint URC/Anglican place of worship are determined to tackle social isolation across the town and is hoping its festive afternoon will be a real home from home.
But as they make their final preparations, they are looking for some additional help to make the day truly sparkle.
The church is holding a Christmas Day service at 10am. Afterwards a team of volunteers will get to work in turning the venue into a winter wonderland.
Guests will be able to stay from 1pm through to 5pm, enjoy a traditional turkey roast dinner, watch the Queen’s speech, play games and enjoy some entertainment.
Places are free thanks to fundraising efforts from the church, spearheaded by the event’s organiser, Helen Graham.
“We’ve been helped with funding from the church family and from the URC Synod as this is the first time that we have done this,” she said.
“The minister’s wife and I are passionate about tackling social isolation – I’ve experienced it myself. We’ll be going beyond Christmas Day with some more projects including a conversation cafe that’s open to anyone who is new to the area or on their own.”
And for Mrs Graham, the Christmas Day event’s aim is very simple: “The idea is that no one should spend the day on their own.
“This is the first time we’ve done this, I knew it was something that I wanted to do. I told the church about it, and asked if we could have permission to use the building for the whole day. The chuch was very happy to do that.”
The 40 people include volunteers, something that is important to Mrs Graham.
“Some people who have booked in just want to spend time with others, while others want to volunteer to help. We will all eat our meal together,” she explained.
And the prospect of peeling all those spuds is neither here nor there for her husband, who will be on cooking duties: a keen Scout leader, he has helped out at camps.
“Some of our volunteers are also Scout colleagues,” Mrs Graham added.
Although Christ Church members have been “fantastic” at helping with the little touches such as buying condiments, Mrs Graham is looking for some extra assistance.
“We want to transform the church, we want decorations, tables settings and so on. It’s the little things like chocolates,” she said.
“We’re also aware that Readibus and Keep Mobile won’t be operating on Christmas Day, could a taxi company with wheelchair accessible vehicles help us out with transport?”
And Mrs Graham also says that there will be room at the inn for latecomers who want to come along and enjoy some Christmas cheer.
“We don’t want to turn anyone away,” she said.
The Christmas Day afternoon is free to attend and aimed at individuals and couples who want to enjoy some company.
To offer help or to register a place, email email@example.com or call 0118 375 0745.