Free Christmas Day dinners for homeless and lonely across Wales

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Ashley Courbold and chef Danny BakerImage source, Viridian
Image caption,
Chef Danny Baker: "We want it to be a special day for everyone"

Free Christmas dinners are being given to homeless, elderly and lonely people thanks to an army of volunteers.

Venues providing the goodwill on Christmas Day include a takeaway, and hotels and restaurants in Cardiff, Powys, Gwynedd and Rhondda Cynon Taff.

Community groups are also hosting events in Pembrokeshire and Wrexham.

Viridian restaurant in Bangor said it had invited families or single people who "might be unable to afford a traditional Christmas feast".

In Pembrokeshire, about 25 guests will enjoy a Christmas Day lunch courtesy of 30 volunteers at St Johns Community Hall in Pembroke Dock.

Revd Alexandra Grace said she has been "surprised and delighted" by the number of people who wanted to help.

Gifts have been donated with people also volunteering time to decorate the room and prepare the food.

"Our church and town are answering the need," she said.

Image source, Victoria Fish Bar
Image caption,
Victoria Fish Bar is providing free food on Christmas Day in Whitchurch, Cardiff

In Wrexham, the Salvation Army is hosting a free two course lunch for 80 guests with the help of 20 volunteers.

And presents will also be provided to guests who are homeless, living in temporary accommodation or who live alone.

The organisation has also given out more than 500 presents to local children, according to centre manager Karen Edwards.

In Bangor, volunteers have helped staff to provide food, gifts and entertainment at the vegan restaurant, Viridian.

Bangor University students added their support by providing about 160 boxes of "goodies" to be given out to people in need.

Chef Danny Baker said he did not know how many people to expect but that local food banks and a homeless help group had handed out flyers in advance.

The plan is to run the restaurant like a normal day with table service provided by about 50 volunteers offering to take food orders and wash pots.

Seven volunteers prepared the fresh ingredients on Christmas Eve and entertainers are playing music throughout the day.

Image caption,
Dr Deborah Morgan said Christmas was a "difficult time" for some people

"There are people out there not really having a good time in what is a family holiday," said Mr Baker.

"We want it to be a special day for everyone."

Mohammed Nazakat, from Victoria Fish Bar in Whitchurch, Cardiff, said it was providing meals for anyone who needed help, although he was not sure how many people may turn up.

And about 400 Christmas dinners with all the trimmings having been delivered for free to people in need across Rhondda Cynon Taff and Cardiff.

They were made by staff at the Ivor Hael Hotel in Tonypandy and distributed by helpers on Christmas Eve, according to local councillor Wendy Lewis.

A number of venues are open on Christmas Day at Brecon, Llandrindod Wells, Presteigne, and Newtown, according to Powys Association of Voluntary Organisation's (Pavo) Mental Health Information Service.

Places like Oti Kalo Greek Restaurant in Brecon are providing snacks and a place to meet while the town's Castle Hotel is hosting a Christmas Day dinner for older people.

Loneliness expert Dr Deborah Morgan, from Swansea University, said Christmas was a "difficult time" for some people because it was often portrayed as a time for family and friends.

"If you're on your own, it exacerbates that loneliness and amplifies that feeling of loneliness because you are not fitting in that norm," she said.