'We want those on the streets to know that we're thinking about them' - Irish restaurant set to feed almost 100 homeless people on Christmas Day
An Irish restaurant will open its doors on December 25 to help those who are homeless and in emergency accommodation celebrate Christmas with a three-course meal and festive celebrations.
Blazin Grill in the suburb of Tallaght, Dublin has been working with Focus Ireland to invite families within emergency accommodation to their festive dinner.
The homeless charity has said there are 115,000 parents and children without homes this Christmas and there has been a near doubling of the number of children in emergency accommodation like hostels and hotels.
Manager Christian Murdoch, who also volunteers with St Vincent de Paul, has said the restaurant want to ensure that those who are invited get to experience a proper Christmas.
"When they come in, there won't be people fussing over them. It will be quite relaxed. We want to make it as enjoyable as possible for all who'll make it down. As long as they feel comfortable and normal, we're happy."
The staff will provide a three-course meal on the day, including a soup starter; a main course of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, vegetables and gravy; followed by apple pie dessert for the adults and chocolate brownies for the children - as well as puddings to take home.
"Transport has been organised so once the guests arrive and are settled, we'll serve the starter and after the main course we'll be screening a Christmas movie that everyone can enjoy with their dessert. We'll also have a little stand with sweets and snacks for the children," said Christian.
Thanks to the support of local businesses, everyone on the day will go home with a hamper, as well as goody bags for each adult and child.
"We're stuffing the goody bags with fun things, not stuff that reminds people they're homeless... we want to give them things that they'd not normally pick up for themselves. Something special for the day. We've been given so many gifts that we might put some of them on a stand so people can help themselves."
Christian has been working closely with assistant manager Tanya McCabe and owners Lee and Stephen McCabe for the past four months to get everything in order but said that the willingness of the entire team to take part has been a big reminder of what Christmas is all about.
"We've had the privilege of having December 24, 25 and 26 off in the past but this year everyone has jumped on board to be here on Christmas Day. You know, the easiest part was getting the staff involved. A lot of them have been here a couple of years and there's a great team spirit.
"We know that everyone has things to do, families they want to see on the day, people returning home from abroad... but the staff were behind the plans all the way," said Christian.
"It's more than that though, it's the community spirit. It's only when things like this take place that you realise how strong the spirit of a community can be."
One of the hardest parts of planning is ensuring that those invited will make it down on the day.
"We want those on the streets to know that there are people out there thinking about them," said Christian.
"It's hard for people who are homeless to make plans, especially if they're living day-to-day. They may not know what they're doing tomorrow or the next but we want them to know that there's a meal here for them.
"We don't want to see people out on the streets on Christmas Day. It's awful at any time of the year but especially at Christmas. We've given them an invitation and we can only hope that they can accept it."
The Belgard Square-based eatery has a 95-seater capacity and already they've made 50 bookings for the day.
"It's not an easy task but we're hoping on the day when they do come down it will all be worthwhile and I'm sure it will. It will be a great day."