George Munro
George Munro

Young mother hosts free Christmas dinner for 60 strangers to help fight loneliness

She made sure everyone had a present too

Rachel Hosie
Wednesday 27 December 2017 14:16
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Christmas is a time when many relatives get together, but for those who don’t have large or close families, it can be incredibly lonely.

One young mother, however, decided to beat both her own loneliness and that of others by hosting a free festive dinner for 60 strangers.

20-year-old Taylor Barnes, from Greenock, Scotland, invited refugees, homeless people, pensioners and single mothers and children to the meal, which was held at a restaurant on Christmas Day.

Barnes decided to host the meal after overhearing a woman talking about how she hates Christmastime because of how lonely she is, which made Barnes think about how she and her one-year-old daughter Harper were going to be alone too.

“I was quite upset. I couldn’t sleep that night,” Barnes told The Daily Record. “I went online looking for ideas of what I could do. Then the idea for the Christmas dinner just popped into my head.

“I thought it would be great to have a community event to bring other people who will be on their own together.”

After posting an appeal online, Barnes, who is studying to be a nurse at West College Scotland, was inundated with responses from people and organisations offering to help.

In four weeks, everything was organised, with Tesco as well as local hairdressers and butchers offering their services.

The dinner was held at 134 Steak House after co-owner Thomas Compston saw Barnes’ post and decided to open the restaurant to cook for her guests.

“When I saw Taylor’s post, I thought it was a great idea to do something for the community,” he said. “We supplied the premises and I and Laura cooked for them.”

Between them, the pair whipped up a three course meal and they even had a singer come and perform for everyone.

What’s more, Barnes had managed to arrange free transport for her guests and had bought everyone presents with £600 she’d fundraised, as well as her own money.

“People donated all the stuff, so it was a real community effort,” Compston said. “It was really good and a heartwarming thing to do.”

Barnes added: “I know there’s a lot of people in the area who spend Christmas alone or feel isolated so I thought, ‘Why should we all spend Christmas alone?’

“It’s given me the drive to go out there and do something.”

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