Christmas Café 2016

25 Jan 2017
By Clare Ereira

Christmas Café starts the festive season


By the time customers started to arrive at the Reading Room for our annual lunchtime Christmas café it all looked delightfully Christmassy with strings of lights and beautifully decorated tables.

Many Stratford residents were hard at work beforehand to supply a delicious range of home-made soups, and a large variety of gifts, produce and craft items were for sale. There was also an impressive array of raffle prizes – many thanks to all who donated so many wonderful items. Particular thanks are also due to John Kennard who produced so many jars of his ever-popular marmalade and chutneys that a selection was placed on every table as we ran out of room on the produce table!

The day was a huge success, both financially and socially. As usual the atmosphere was warm and welcoming, and the day produced a massive £1028 profit which was split between our two chosen charities: Kidasha and the Salisbury Child Contact Centre.

Unfortunately Liz Waterman was unable to be present, but many of us are familiar with the aims of Kidasha from previous events. Working with the poorest children in Nepal, the charity provides support and protection to those who are neglected, exploited and often abused as a result of systematic discrimination in the country. Liz and John have been major promoters of this charity, which is making a real difference to the lives of these children by paying for schooling, funding antenatal and post-natal check-ups for mothers, providing safe refuges for child victims of abuse and helping families to grow food. Shockingly, many people in Nepal live on less than 40 pence a day, which is far too little to give them even enough to eat, and each year nearly 35,000 Nepalese children die before their 5th birthday.

The other charity is one which offers a valuable service to local families which have suffered a marriage break-up, to enable children to keep in contact with the absent partner. Money raised will help the charity to provide a safe, friendly and neutral space where children of separated families can spend time with the absent parent and other family members. The centre, which uses St Osmund’s Pre-School in Exeter Street, is open on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month and referrals are made through social workers, solicitors, family mediators or other official channels. Children can suffer long-term from the break-up of marriages, so anything that mitigates the damage has got to be a worthwhile cause.

Many thanks to all who helped to make the Christmas café another resounding success and we look forward to another series of Stratford cafés next year.

Clare Ereira

Click here to see the gallery of photos from the day