Belfast cafe free Christmas Day dinner pioneer to open doors for 11th year


A Belfast cafe that was one of the first in the city to offer a free Christmas Day dinner to anyone down on their luck or at home alone is to open its doors for the eleventh year running.

Common Grounds cafe on Belfast’s University Avenue has served up around 1,200 hot Christmas meals since 2007 when it first sent out an invitation for guests to join them for the festive treat on 25 December. That’s around 2,500 slices of turkey, 5,000 roast potatoes and 6,000 Brussel sprouts.

And this year will be no different. Together with neighbouring City Church Belfast, the social enterprise cafe promises to provide a full three course Christmas dinner, including roast turkey (with a Halal option), stuffing, cooked ham, roasties and all the trimmings.

Cafe manager Laura Green said: “If you know of anyone in Belfast who’d enjoy some company on Christmas Day, along with a tasty hot dinner and some festive cheer, then let them know that our doors will be open.

“We’ll be there to welcome them – dishing up a tasty traditional Christmas dinner, followed by Christmas pudding – and helped along with some warm company.”

The cafe has been overwhelmed with offers of support – and already has a full team of volunteers to help with serving food and washing up. Food for the day has also been donated by kindhearted individuals or businesses.

“It never ceases to amaze me how generous people are…It’s a reflection of what Christmas is all about.”

“We have people who volunteer to help from year to year,” said Phil King, one of the cafe directors.

“It never ceases to amaze me how generous people are in volunteering their time and donating food to make this a special time for others who are down on their luck or living on their own. It’s a reflection of what Christmas is all about.”

Common Grounds is a fair trade cafe that gives away all its profits to charities. Since 2004, it has donated more than £60,000 to humanitarian aid and development charities. The cafe is home to Belfast Friendship Club and also hosts South Belfast Foodbank.

The cafe will be serving meals from 12pm until 2pm on Christmas Day and is located at 12-24 University Avenue, Belfast.