Kind-hearted couple offer place at their dinner table to lonely residents this Christmas

A kind-hearted South Tyneside couple are setting a place at their dinner table for someone who is going to be lonely this Christmas.

Friday, 8th November 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Sunday, 10th November 2019, 1:16 pm

East Boldon residents Lise and Derek Barkas have extended a generous offer to someone who will be spending December 25 alone this year, by inviting them to spend Christmas dinner with them, their son Benjamin, seven, and Derek’s mum.

The couple, who will be celebrating their first Christmas living in South Tyneside together since moving home from Norway in January, were inspired by seeing how food bank Hebburn Helps supports vulnerable people at this time of year.

Derek, 52, an interior architect, said: “There are so many elderly people who have lost their spouse or their kids are away, who are by themselves for whatever reason and we have space at our table, so why not invite someone in?

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Lise Barkas with husband Derek Barkas have a space place at their Christmas dinner table for a lonely resident

“Communities in the North East are becoming more reclusive and people don’t know how to reach out because of technology, so the elderly are becoming more and more isolated from society.

“But it doesn’t have to be an elderly person, it can be anybody who is by themselves this Christmas to come and have some company for an hour or two.

He continued: “It’s going to be a big step for someone, but there’s no judgement, it’s an open door. We have space for two people but we can always just extend the table.

“We’ll pick them up and drop them off, it’s a very small expense for a lovely Christmas.”

Jewellery designer Lise added: “It will be lovely for us too, it’s not totally selfless. I love the thought of meeting someone and exchanging experiences, we’re trying to create a community and open forms of communication that might not have been there otherwise.”

The couple hope to get to know their guest and meet up for coffee over the coming weeks so they won’t be strangers on Christmas Day.

“I think that’s important for both parties,” said Lise.

“Anybody who would like to join us will be more than welcome.”

If you, or someone you know would like to have Christmas dinner with the family, contact Hebburn Helps on 0191 489 9707.