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“Tis the season to be jolly” – well for most of us it is. Once the stress of shopping is over the Christmas holidays are pretty good.

But what about those who are struggling, those without money and perhaps not even a home – what about them? What about people we see sat begging on the street while busy shoppers bustle by?

Those projects that support people on the streets know that Christmas can be extra hard. The weather can be grim even without a white Christmas. The exclusion the Christmas festivities can be painful.

Projects like the Cathedral Archer Project and the Sunday Centre will bring Christmas in with their service users in the run up to the holiday. Steve Clark of the Sunday Centre said: “The Christmas dinner is one of the highlights of our year. Not sure who enjoys it most – our Guests or our volunteers.”

In Sheffield, the heart of the provision over Christmas is HARC – Homeless and Rootless at Christmas. HARC have provided Christmas care for people in need for over 25 years and this year will again operate out of the Cathedral on Campo Lane.

HARC will open their doors on Christmas Eve. They will open every day until New Year’s Day.

HARC’s day starts at 9.00am. At 9.30 they serve breakfast. There is lunch at 1.00pm – with Christmas dinner on Christmas Day. Tea is served at 5.00pm with the project closing at 7.00pm.

Guests can use HARC as flexibly as they need to. Some Guests will come for breakfast and stay all day. Others will just call in for the meals.

The HARC volunteers make everyone welcome and create a real Christmassy spirit. There are board games, bingo (always very popular!), craft activities and entertainment.

As mentioned, Guests do come and go but on average about 100 people will come to HARC every day that they’re open.

HARC require 60 volunteers every day to provide enough cover for two shifts. The volunteers cook the three meals each day and ensure that the meals can be served swiftly. There needs to be enough staffing to run the project safely and to provide a welcoming and enjoyable experience for the Guests.

HARC and the other Sheffield projects work closely together with many service users using HARC over Christmas and volunteers from all year-round projects working with HARC over the holiday period.

No-one pretends that being in serious need or on the street over Christmas is anything but grim but people are not forgotten. Sheffield can be proud of HARC and the contribution their volunteers make to provide a warm welcome, Christmas spirit and great meals every day from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day

Maybe it’s “HARC” that the herald angles sing when over Sheffield!

To get involved visit

Contact Sheffield City Council for help and advice with accommodation.
The system is designed to help people away from homelessness and street life.
Extra help is available in freezing weather.
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