This Advent, as we approach the darkest point of the year, many of us are already thinking of Christmas and the midwinter holiday we will spend with our families. Changing Lives’ hostel for homeless men in Chester-le-Street, and its women’s refuge in Newcastle, give vulnerable people in the north-east a safe and welcoming roof over their heads at what can often be a particularly difficult time.
I am making a 12-day journey by foot, from Durham cathedral, north to Lindisfarne’s ruined priory, following a once-popular pilgrimage route to England’s holiest island. In the ninth century, the monks of Lindisfarne packed up the relics of their bishop, Cuthbert, and took him on a tour of northern England. They made a home in Chester-le-Street, building their church over an old Roman fort, before moving on to the new settlement of Durham one hundred years later. Monastic communities grew up all along this route. They were supposed to provide refuge for the poor, infirm and vulnerable. Today this ever-important role is filled by organisations such as Changing Lives.
During my walk I will be staying as a volunteer at The Fells men’s homeless hostel in Chester-le-Street, and at Francis House women’s refuge in Newcastle. The money raised by your generosity will provide residents of both these places with a bit of seasonal love.
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