SELFLESS HELPERS: Mieke Bell with volunteers Ian and Jacky at The Winsome & Lismore Soup Kitchen.
SELFLESS HELPERS: Mieke Bell with volunteers Ian and Jacky at The Winsome & Lismore Soup Kitchen. Peter Derrett

Friendship and full bellies

IF YOU are homeless, alone or in need of company on Christmas Day, The Winsome and Lismore Soup Kitchen would like to invite you to join them for lunch.

In what has become an annual event, The Winsome will open its doors for those with nowhere to go once again this Christmas, where people can be served a wonderful lunch by wonderful people.

The president of the soup kitchen, Mieke Bell, says she is expecting about 195 people on the day, bringing together its large community of patrons and about 40 volunteers for Christmas fare, cheer and carols.

The Winsome Lismore Soup Kitchen has been feeding Lismore's homeless for more than 30 years.

But in 2009 the charity's benefactors managed to secure the Winsome Hotel, which has been the most "fantastic building for accommodating the many outreach activities and services offered to disadvantaged people”, Mieke says.

The soup kitchen now feeds about 90 people every day of the week. Some come for the meal, others come to enjoy each other's company and their Caddies coffee.

"It really has become the most tremendous hub. We have a local GP here once a week, a representative from Legal Aid, a Centrelink facilitator, there's a church service on Sunday and we even offer haircuts,” Mieke says.

"It really has become a way to provide holistic care to those in our community who need it.”

While Mieke says The Winsome is a very special place and puts "hands and feet to her Christian faith”, she is quick to deflect praise.

"It's the volunteers who make the place so special.

"We could not do it without the commitment and dedication of all our volunteers, as well as the financial backing of those who are part of The Winsome 500,” she says.

"I do not see it as 'us' and 'them', but 'our'.

"Every regional centre should have a Winsome.

"I love it. It is unique and I have watched this feeling grow. But you cannot do it on your own - and you shouldn't be alone at Christmas.”

The Christmas lunch event will start about 9am.


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