Restaurant handing out free Portuguese Christmas dinners
PUBLISHED: 09:20 14 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:20 14 December 2019
A restaurant in Norwich will dish out free Christmas dinners to older people to combat loneliness.
Jorge Santos, co-owner of Jorge's in Orford Yard, was inspired by restaurants in Quarteira in the Algarve where free Christmas dinners for the community are a tradition.
The 57-year-old said: "It is giving something back to the community. We wanted it to be for people who don't have the chance to go out and enjoy themselves or meet and talk with other people."
The restaurant will serve a three-course dinner, including a glass of port and traditional Portuguese sweet king's cake, to group of 24 specially-selected older guests on Monday December 16.
All five of the restaurant's staff have volunteered to work on their day off to prepare the Yuletide menu.
Co-owner Eleanor Santos, 36, said: "Most people see Christmas as a really happy time, but there are some who struggle with it and dread it. One of our invited guests has rung up already and said he is really looking forward to coming along as he doesn't have anybody to spend time with."
The dinner has been co-ordinated with Age UK in Norwich as part of its #givingbacktothelocalcommunity initiative.
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According to the charity, loneliness is a big issue for the city's older population with 56pc of people living alone over the age of 65.
Dan Skipper, chief executive of Age UK Norwich, said: "We're really thrilled that Jorge and Eleanor are supporting our work by putting on this wonderful meal, and we really hope that it can become an annual event and help many more people who might be alone share in the joy of Christmas."
Other businesses in Norfolk have also contributed to the dinner.
Norwich Door-to-Door will provide transport from the guests' home to the restaurant, John Lewis has suppled festive decorations and Norwich Theatre Royal has given free theatre tickets to each guest.
Meanwhile, staff at the Tesco store in Great Yarmouth have donated Christmas hampers for each guest, Norfolk Knitters and Stitchers group have gifted knitted goods and ReAssure has given a donation for the entertainment.