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This year, at the new Red Rose office, Changing Futures hosted our first ever Christmas day event, a Christmas buffet open to all members of the community. As a lived experience team, we understand that Christmas can be a difficult time of year for many people, especially for those in recovery or those who are vulnerable and marginalized. In the run up to Christmas, as we were talking to our beneficiaries, we noticed a lot of them were going to be alone over the festive period. With services closed over the holidays, these individuals feel even more isolated and disconnected.

That’s why we decided to create an event where anyone who felt alone at Christmas could come together in a warm, welcoming environment and enjoy some food, laughter, and good company. Our office was open from 12-4, and people were welcome to drop in and out as they pleased or stay for the entire day. We were given a budget from Red Rose, a generous donation of food from Fair Share, and even collaborated with a local eatery, Roast, to provide an array of delicious food options. Roast provided a hot Christmas dinner, whilst we created a buffet spread, all of which could be enjoyed in a festive and cosy atmosphere in our downstairs area at Lune Street.

The day was filled with music, Christmas crackers, party games, and many terrible Christmas jokes, and overall, it was a great success. We had a steady flow of visitors throughout the day, and everyone who came had a lovely time. We received positive feedback from many of our beneficiaries, who appreciated the opportunity to spend Christmas in a supportive and inclusive environment. They felt comfortable and safe, and it meant the world to them that someone was thinking of them on Christmas day. For many, it was their first Christmas in recovery, and they expressed how much it meant to them to be surrounded by a loving and supportive community.

The day was not only about providing a meal and a warm place to be on Christmas day, it was also about providing hope. Hope that they are not alone and that they can find a place of belonging, in a community where they can truly feel valued, respected, and supported. It was about giving people in recovery the opportunity to see that it is possible to have a wonderful Christmas without the need for substances, surrounded by people who understand and care about them.

We were proud to have hosted this event and it has inspired us to make it an annual tradition. We are already in the planning stages for next year, and we can’t wait to make it even bigger and better. This event was a great way to bring the community together and to promote the importance of inclusivity and connection, especially during the holiday season. We are grateful for the support from Red Rose Recovery, Fair Share and Roast, and we look forward to continuing to work together in the future to make a positive impact in the lives of individuals in recovery.