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Melissa

I lived in the Oasis refuge at Christmas a couple of years ago. It was a really hard time for me, I had moved away from family and had lost touch with friends whilst I was with my husband. I wasn't sleeping and my kids were unsettled, starting at a new school and living in a new place. But, at the same time, to be in such a caring atmosphere was amazing.

There were so many donations, I had warm clothes, new slippers and someone had given the staff money to through a Christmas party so there was food and a little Santa’s grotto with presents. The kids were in heaven! There was a real community spirit, we decorated together (tinsel everywhere) and put up the tree in the living room. It’s not the same as being at home but doing it with this big group of women was fun.

In the couple of days before Christmas the food donations started to come in, we had two turkeys, loads of veg, pigs in blankets and so many mince pies. I was the cook of the house, always did a roast on Sundays for whoever wanted to chip in, so I took charge of Christmas dinner. There were people peeling veg, we used the ovens in two different kitchens and burnt some of the roasties but put together a really nice dinner. We all sat around the massive dining room table to eat. I’ll always remember that Christmas.