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Gatehouse in Bury St Edmunds to end Christmas Day lunch service after more than 30 years but support to continue





A Christmas Day lunch which has catered for hundreds of people across more than 30 years is to end – but support will continue for those in need.

Gatehouse, in Bury St Edmunds, has provided an annual meal for those on their own on Christmas Day but, with other organisations offering a similar service and fewer attendees since the pandemic, it has decided to stop the tradition.

However, those already registered for the lunch will be invited to the charity, in Dettingen Way, for a hot meal the week before.

Amanda Bloomfield, chief executive of Gatehouse, preparing for last year's Christmas Day lunch. Picture: Mecha Morton
Amanda Bloomfield, chief executive of Gatehouse, preparing for last year's Christmas Day lunch. Picture: Mecha Morton

Chief executive Amanda Bloomfield said: “It has always been one of Gatehouse’s strengths that it is able to accept when projects come to a natural end and to look to new challenges that arise and focus on how we meet those needs.

“We are always conscious that we are very lucky with the support from the community both financially and practically by way of volunteering and strive to ensure that the funds we receive are used in the most cost-effective way and ensure that money goes directly to support the most vulnerable.”

As the cost-of-living crisis continues, Gatehouse’s focus this December will be its Christmas project which last year provided more than 700 food parcels. It also runs a Home Store, Social Supermarket and Community Hub throughout the year.

Gatehouse has recently received £25,000 to provide white goods funded by Suffolk Community Foundation through the Household Support Fund. Organisations are able to apply to the fund by emailing SCFWG@gatehouse.org.uk

The Community Hub has also been running a Warm Welcome Café every Tuesday morning to those wishing to stay safe and warm.

The café has opened its doors to more than 100 people so far this year and is looking to continue through March and April with its current funding.

The Christmas Day lunch was initially held in the crypt of St Edmund’s Catholic Church before moving to St Benedict’s Catholic School. Over the years, Amanda estimates the event could have catered for more than 1,000 people.

She added: “I’d like to personally thank all the volunteers that have given their time over the years to support the Christmas project. It’s been an absolute pleasure to spend time with you on what can for some, be a very challenging time of year. I look forward to working together with some of you again with our new projects.”