THIS Christmas will be the first in almost 50 years that a church cannot provide a a celebratory lunch for vulnerable people at its hall amid the pandemic.

Hove Methodist Church in Portland Road has been hosting a Christmas Day feast for people who would otherwise be on their own over the period since 1972.

This year, despite Covid-19, volunteers are determined to carry on the tradition of providing a festive meal for people who are isolated across Brighton and Hove.

More than 150 meals will be prepared by a committed team and transported to people’s homes across the city.

Rachel Richards, a community worker at the church, said the Christmas Day lunch is normally one of its biggest events of the year.

She said: “For the last 48 years the church has held a lunch on Christmas Day for folk who would otherwise be alone at Christmas.

“It’s incredible to think it is still going on.

“Last year our hall was full with 120 guests, plus volunteers.

“It’s a wonderful day and so much fun to be a part of.

“Sadly, this year we can’t do this so we are sending out hot meals to people around the city who will be spending Christmas alone and may not be able to access food or even cook themselves a meal.”

A full hot Christmas lunch will be provided, and the church has received donations from food businesses, including turkeys and sausages from M & B Meats in London Road.

The Argus: Rachel Richards, left, and Caroline HendersonRachel Richards, left, and Caroline Henderson

Vegetables and gifts have been donated by Good Times Pubs and Bars, which runs six venues across the city, including the George Payne pub in Hove and The Railway Inn in Portslade.

Recipients will also enjoy a Christmas pudding, Christmas cake and presents which have been wrapped by volunteers.

Caroline Henderson, the co-ordinator at Hove charity Food and Friendship, will be cooking the meals.

The charity normally hosts a lunch club at the church twice a week and has been working hard throughout 2020 to adapt and become a delivery service, providing free hot meals to isolated residents during lockdown.

The service on Christmas Day is over-subscribed and Rachel said she has been “inundated” by people offering a helping hand to drive and transport the Christmas lunches.

She said: “There’s been so much kindness; including from businesses which have taken a battering this year.

“It’s been overwhelming.

“On Christmas Day itself we will have a small team of volunteers as obviously we have to keep within the coronavirus restrictions.

“We will of course be taking safety precautions both in the kitchen and when delivering.

“Caroline will be cooking on the day and the minister Reverend Andy Lowe will be here.

“We’ve got about 55 drivers coming to deliver lunches between noon and 2pm.

“It’s been such a terrible year, we are just trying to send out a bit of love across the city. How could we not?”

For more information on Food and Friendship, visit