A Rushden woman who turned her life around after being made homeless as a teenager is hoping to help others who find themselves in a similar position this Christmas.
Michelle Parkinson was in her teens when she was made homeless, but she managed to turn her life around after a couple gave her dinner when she was on the streets.
She has since gone on to be the founder and chairman for Together for Christmas, a voluntary group which puts on a free Christmas lunch for anyone who is finding life tough.
Michelle said: “I started this community organisation three years ago after sitting with my family talking about how I was homeless for a while after leaving school and how one person’s kindness and generosity helped me to become the person I am today.
“Together for Christmas is a community voluntary organisation where we hold a full Christmas dinner with presents, housing and benefits advice for the homeless, vulnerable, lonely or those just finding life tough.
“I decided to hold it near Christmas because that was the worse time for me and many others I met.
“I, along with my husband and a good friend, asked the community the first year to help with food donations and a venue.
“It was incredible.
“We were able to provide enough food and volunteers to help to feed and help 40 people.” While it can be hard getting the word out to homeless people who don’t always have access to the internet, Michelle said: “Last year, volunteers and shops and donations allowed us to double the figure of who we fed and we also had flasks that were donated and lunch boxes which we took out at night full of food and soup and travelled the Northamptonshire county and fed people in doorways and in parks.
“This year we’re holding it again.
“The Rushden community is amazing and we already have some donations and a venue and volunteers signing up each day.
“We are now registered as a community voluntary organisation allowing us to provide this service throughout the year, not just Christmas.”
Michelle wants to help people who find themselves in a similar position to her when she was younger, and she hopes her story will encourage them to come forward and ask for help.
She said: “My story had a happy ending, not all do.”
Anyone who would like to get involved with Together for Christmas or who would like to make a donation can call Michelle on 07714 373332 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read more about Michelle’s story, click here