Christmas festival brings smiles and seasonal cheer to Burnley's homeless and needy

Mark Hanson (fourth from left) and Pastor Mick Fleming (second from right) with helpers at the Christmas festival.
Mark Hanson (fourth from left) and Pastor Mick Fleming (second from right) with helpers at the Christmas festival.

A Christmas festival, hosted by volunteers to bring some seasonal cheer to Burnley's homeless and vulnerable, was a huge success on Saturday.

Hundreds of people flocked to the event which included free food, music, games and fairground rides for children.

Organised by Pastor Mick Fleming of the Church on the Street ministry he was joined by volunteers and helpers dressed in Santa suits to give the day a real seasonal atmosphere.

Aimed at raising the plight of the many vulnerable people living in the town, one of the main organisers of the event was businessman Mark Hanson who owns Quicker Skips.

He said: "The generosity and kindness was humbling to see.

"Watching people walk away with smiles, love, full bellies, food for the week and clothes to keep them warm was empowering."

Pastor Fleming gave a gospel which Mark described as 'emotional and inspiring' adding: "Everyone at the church was overwhelmed and there were a lot of tears in the crowd."

The Church on the Street's drive to help the needy includes holding twice weekly sessions in Burnley town centre handing out food.

The group has also been running a Homeless Advent Box Appeal during the festive period which has been a huge success with dozens donated by the public filled with items such as hats and gloves, scarves, toothpaste, socks and other essential items most of us take for granted.

Some of the gift boxes were handed out at the festival on Saturday.

On Christmas Day the ministry is hosting a free Christmas dinner with all the trimmings at Gannow Community Centre. And big plans on the cards for 2020 include establishing their own church and a night shelter for Burnley.