A bishop is asking people across Suffolk to consider giving some of their time at Christmas to help the homeless, those short of food or on their own.
In a Christmas message The Rt Revd Dr David Thomson, Acting Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said he like others will be looking forward to celebrating Christmas and receiving presents from loved ones.
But he said it is also a time of year to remember to love our neighbours and to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
His comments come as volunteers open churches in Ipswich from December 3 to the homeless people of Ipswich for the 15 coldest weeks of winter. Each night the Ipswich Winter Night Shelter project offers 12 homeless people a safe place to stay, washing facilities, a sit down supper with the volunteers and breakfast the following morning.
And elsewhere in the county, amongst the many church projects to help others, this year volunteers at the East Suffolk Foodbank launched a home delivery service in the area so that people in hardship can access its emergency food parcels without facing a costly journey to the charity’s drop-in sessions in Lowestoft, Beccles or Halesworth.
The scheme, led by local churches under the umbrella Christians Together and co-ordinated on their behalf by the Rev Richard Henderson, vicar of Reydon, was established to cover Southwold, Reydon, Wangford, South Cove, Blythburgh, Sotherton, Walberswick and Uggeshall.
Bishop David said: “I like many of us am looking forward to getting some lovely presents this year, but of course Christmas is about giving more than receiving. And we don’t have to just do this at Christmas. Every day can be Christmas, when we are giving generously to the people around us.
“So who should we be giving to? Is it just to our family? Or our close friends? Or the people we like? Jesus famously asked the question, Who is my neighbour? And anyone who has read the story of the Good Samaritan will know that the answer is: everybody.
“So here’s a question: Who could I be giving to this Christmas, that might otherwise get forgotten?
“I expect nearly all of you will buy something extra at the supermarket and drop it in the food bank collection basket, which is great. Had you thought that the food banks need volunteers too? And so does our Ipswich Winter Night Shelter for the homeless. And lots of other local projects that we will know about need help too.
“Or is there someone living on their own near you that you could call in to see and wish them a very happy Christmas?”