Christmas is approaching fast and the team from the James Jacobs Fellowship are back in full planning mode for the 15th year.
Jan and Leigh Kealton host a Christmas Lunch on the Gold Coast for people suffering from mental illnesses.
“Many of our guests are alienated from family and friends and have nowhere else to go. Christmas Day is a vulnerable time for many,” said Leigh Kealton, co-founder of the Fellowship.
Last year throughout the chaos of the pandemic, they were able to convert the usual sit-down Christmas Day lunch and traditional gift packs to a take-away event. A fully catered traditional Christmas lunch was served to around 120 people, most of whom sat in the gardens and enjoyed some much-needed camaraderie.
For the past 14 years, Jan and Leigh have drawn together a band of volunteers to make the day a success. They initially started the Fellowship after the tragic death of their son, James who suffered from schizophrenia. They made it their lifelong goal to raise awareness of mental health issues and started organising the Christmas lunch for those who in the community who may have nowhere else to go.
From small beginnings, the couple have been looking for options for the annual Christmas lunch to be sustainable well into the future. “It clearly fills a void and we ourselves are not getting any younger!” said Leigh.
Jan has been working with the St John’s Crisis Centre in Surfers Paradise for the last three years. An amazing organisation who provides meals and support services to vulnerable people every day all year round under the incredible management of Di Kozik.
Di is working with the James Jacobs Fellowship and the St John’s Crisis Centre will take over the running of the lunch, with Jan and Leigh’s ongoing help.
“They have an amazing army of volunteers and donors and we do not want to put them under additional pressure, so we plan to engage with our support base to continue with us on this journey,” said Leigh.
Smartbag is proud to once again support the Fellowship with bags for food distribution and Christmas presents.