FEATURE: Feeding High Peak’s lonely and vulnerable this Christmas

Carolyn Berrisford feeding the homeless at her cafe on Christmas day. Ruth Eyre, Martin Murray, Craig Taylor, Carolyn Berrisford, Deborah Byrne and Clive Gerrard.
Carolyn Berrisford feeding the homeless at her cafe on Christmas day. Ruth Eyre, Martin Murray, Craig Taylor, Carolyn Berrisford, Deborah Byrne and Clive Gerrard.

Two Buxton cafes, The Source and the Tradesman’s Entrance, will be feeding the vulnerable and lonely on Christmas Day for free, meaning more than 50 people will be eating with company.

Carolyn Berrisford has managed the Tradesman’s cafe on Scarsdale Place for seven years.

Carolyn Berrisford feeding the homeless at her cafe on Christmas day. Natasha Pickford.

Carolyn Berrisford feeding the homeless at her cafe on Christmas day. Natasha Pickford.

She said: “I was walking down the streets of Manchester and I had never seen so many homeless people and I couldn’t believe this was the world we are now living in.

“With changes in politics and benefit payments some people have just found themselves in hard times and can’t break the cycle.

“I know the homeless situation is not as dire here in Buxton, but there are people who are struggling or those who may have family that live too far away to visit.

“No-one should be on their own and I just wanted to do something to help because my cafe has all the equipment to cook meals.”

Carolyn Berrisford feeding the homeless at her cafe on Christmas day. Ruth Eyre.

Carolyn Berrisford feeding the homeless at her cafe on Christmas day. Ruth Eyre.

The 44-year-old posted on Facebook to ask if people thought it was a good idea, and if they knew anyone who might want a hot meal or some company.

She said: “The response was staggering. In just 24 hours it had reached 36,000 people and had been shared and liked, and people were commenting offering to help.

“We live in a wonderful world. I know there is a lot of destruction and sadness, but there is also wonderful people with kind hearts who want to help.”

The cafe can accommodate 28 diners, but will be open from 11am until 6pm so could feed more people during the course of the day.

Carolyn Berrisford feeding the homeless at her cafe on Christmas day. Carolyn Berrisford.

Carolyn Berrisford feeding the homeless at her cafe on Christmas day. Carolyn Berrisford.

Carolyn said: “This isn’t just for the homeless, but for any vulnerable people or families who are struggling, or even lonely people.

“This Christmas isn’t going to be about labels so anyone is welcome. If they want a full meal we can provide that, or if they just want a chat, a warm and a mince pie, that is okay too.”

Carolyn used to work at a children’s home and would always make sure her name was down for Christmas Day.

She said: “For those couple of hours while there are smiles and full bellies, people can forget their troubles and worries and just live for the moment and enjoy life which is how it should be.”

To help her in this venture she is working with the Source Cafe, on Terrace Road, which is now in its second year of feeding those in need.

The cafe is part of Buxton Church in the Peak. Congregation member Ruth Eyre said: “I made some little gift bags up last year and someone said it was the only present they received for Christmas which really brings it home how important it is to make sure no-one is forgotten.”

The Source will be feeding 25 people, which will include those who may have mental health issues or who just feel isolated.

Ruth, 30, said: “Buxton is a place with a great sense of community and if we can all come together we can all make a difference, even if it is only a little difference.

“People lead very busy lives and I understand there isn’t always time to help others, but I think because Christmas is a time for family and giving it makes people aware just how lucky they are, and they find the time to help others.”

Both the Tradesman’s Entrance and The Source are looking for donations of Christmas presents to ensure that every guest can go away with what may be their only gift.

Anyone looking to make donations of food and presents, or even give up a few hours on they day, would be greatly received.

Ruth said: “If someone can only spare half an hour it will mean that one of the other volunteers who may have been cooking or clearing tables for several hours can take a quick break and have a sit down.”

If you know anyone who would benefit from a free festive meal, call The Source on 01298 71975 or the Tradesman’s Entrance on 07950 530 654.