Train station turns into dining hall to give 200 homeless people festive dinner
25th December 2018

The spirit of Christmas was truly alive as a train station was transformed into a dining hall to give 200 homeless people a festive dinner.

Those who do not have a place to call their own were treated to a free yuletide party at Birmingham New Street station.

This included a three-course banquet at a round-table area on the busy lower concourse.

Midlands Langar Seva Society arranged the event which was supported by Network Rail.

As well as the delicious feast, there were carol singers, a DJ and Santa made an appearance at the Christmas Eve event.

The night, which had a moving choral performance, was not just about laying on food, but bringing people together at a time of year when many feel lonely and isolated.

Randhir Singh, chief executive of the society, told Birmingham Live: “Midlands Langar Seva Society are out seven nights a week, not only across Birmingham but across the UK.

“Our main purpose is to serve humanity and serve hot meals to people less fortunate than ourselves, give out hats, clothes and warm clothing and give hope.

"Every year around about a week before Christmas we start giving out Christmas presents and cards.

"A lot of people around this time of year start missing their families, they experience depression and the suicide rate is quite high as well.

“Tonight we are putting on a three-course, sit down Christmas meal and giving out Christmas presents, with one of the managers of Network Rail dressing as Santa.

“It’s their night and we are making it special for them.”

Among the guests sitting down with friends to the Christmas meal, served up by volunteers in festive dress on the ground floor concourse, was Louise Gall, who normally sleeps rough.

Louise, 41, said: “What they have done for us is amazing.

“I live on the streets and without this I wouldn’t have had a Christmas meal, the only way I could have had a hot meal would be by begging on the streets.

“I spent last night sleeping outside the station where the bikes are stored, it was freezing cold.

“It’s amazing what they have done for the homeless.”

The society had noticed by being out on the streets that many homeless people missed their families and felt isolated from society in general.

Numbers of homeless people are said to be at crisis levels by national charities and the society’s work on the ground has borne this out.

Mr Singh said: “We are getting busier and busier. The people we see here tonight are just our service users, and we recognise 90 per cent of them.

“Through this Christmas dinner and with the support of Network Rail, we have been able to make it a bit special for them.”

Round tables were decked out with donated food and soft drinks, including Christmas crackers.

Craig Stenning, deputy station manager, said: “It’s about giving back to the community.

“As well as the meal there are some presents that have been donated by the retailers in the station.

“We are at the heart of the community and this is about giving back to the most lonely and vulnerable people in our society.

"For the staff here it’s worth it to see the guests having a nice time.”

Carols at the Christmas dinner were sung by a choir from the Black Country and DJ Sat of Paradigm Entertainment.

The society, which won a TSB Local Pride of Birmingham Award in April 2017, is a non-profit organisation that aims to help the homeless and provide food to those in need.

Langar is a Sikh and Punjabi term for a communal free kitchen.

The Christmas dinner event comes after the Cathedral hosted a similar event on Saturday.

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