A place for the lonely on Christmas Day
Premier Christian Radio has been organising a matchmaking service in the run-up to Christmas between those who don't have anywhere to go on Christmas Day and organisations that are holding events.
The station has been asking churches, charities, clubs and other organisations to contact them with details of their planned Christmas Day activities. The venue and locations have then been shared with Premier's listeners both on-air and online, so that those who may otherwise be lonely on Christmas Day are able to spend it with others.
Presenter Loretta Andrews came up with the idea after a phone-in discussion about those who might be facing a lonely Christmas.
After speaking with the deputy CEO of Crisis, a national charity that works to support homeless people, she was impacted by the sheer number of people who spend Christmas Day without friends and family.
"I hate the thought of anyone being alone at Christmas," she says. "It's dreadful at any time of the year, but it seems especially bad at Christmas."
"When I was growing up, we as a family always invited the waifs and strays to spend the day with us. Now, at Premier, I saw that we are in a unique position to help."
Loretta has been working in the run-up to Christmas to produce a countrywide list of places for people to spend Christmas Day with others in their home town.
"When I speak with our listeners, we often find that they say Premier is their church because they're housebound or lonely and can't get around easily.
"They're the people that need to know about these services, so I saw an opportunity to do a bit of matchmaking, and put the two together," she says.
She hopes that it might put some people in contact with local churches that they didn't know existed, and that real relationships will be fostered through the campaign.
"There might be the opportunity for people to meet churches on their doorstep that they didn't know were there, or have visitors if they are housebound, and we can start to put a link there to help the Church be what it's meant to be: Jesus' love in action," Loretta says.
"It's a big ask but it's not nice for anyone to be alone, especially at Christmas. This is a great way for the Church to show the love of God in a practical way at Christmas time and we are confident that the idea will receive a broad level of support."