A FESTIVE homeless shelter that was facing homelessness itself has been thrown a lifeline.
The Christmas Care Shelter, which has traditionally been held at Queens Drive Methodist Church, was in danger of not being able to operate this Christmas.
The church is due to close this month and the committee members of the Christmas Care Shelter have been anxious to find a new home.
But this week they learned they will be able to offer a Christmas meal and support to the homeless again thanks to the Dome Community Centre in Walcot which has offered itself as a new venue.
Chairman of the committee Patsy Moloney, 72, of Park North, said: “The trustees of Christmas Care would like to thank the church committee for their help and support over the years.
“The good news is the trustees of the Dome Community Centre in Burghley Close have come to our rescue. The shelter will again run from Christmas Eve to December 28.
Volunteer evenings will again be underway in the autumn although Patsy says: “With little parking space at the Dome our two volunteer meetings will be held at St Joseph’s Catholic college on Ocotal Way on Wednesday, November 16 and Thursday, November 24 – both nights at 7.30pm.
“We would like to thank Mr Peace and Mr Hughes for giving us St Joseph’s free of charge.”
The charity, which saw 166 volunteers help out last Christmas, has been running for the past 28 years but due to dwindling congregation numbers Queens Drive Methodist Church in Park South has been forced to close.
Every Christmas, Patsy and his team of volunteers give up their time to make sure the homeless of Swindon spend the festive period tucking into a turkey dinner and sleeping in a proper bed.
Patsy, who in 2011 received the Pride of Swindon Award for his work with the homeless, is a popular figure in the community who often organises Irish dances, social gatherings and concerts at the Wyvern Theatre.
Betty Spence, 79, life president of Christmas Care, said: “It was a huge relief to hear we had finally got somewhere, we’re absolutely delighted.
“We’re very grateful to the people at the Dome Community centre for letting us use their facilities and we’re hoping to be able to help as many people as possible this Christmas.
“We will be inviting people along who have been put into bedsits and B&Bs by the council because they don’t get a proper evening meal.”
Betty founded the charity in 1988 at St Paul’s Church in Covingham.
“It took me about 18 months to find a venue at first,” she said.
“It was really rough in those days because people didn’t get as many benefits as they do now and we didn’t have any washing facilities or anything like that.
“But it’s wonderful that we’ll be able to keep going and continue to offer people some shelter from the cold at Christmas.”