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Christmas lunch brings cheer to homeless

AAP logoAAP 25/12/2016 Anna Hitchings

The day was merry and bright at Sydney's Kings Cross on Sunday as hundreds of homeless and marginalised gathered to share a communal Christmas lunch.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy came and helped out as waiters at the Wayside Chapel lunch, where to up 1000 people gathered for the annual event.

"We're celebrating today the birth of a man who came to live with us, the son of God, with a message of unconditional love and sacrifice. And that message is the message that the Wayside Chapel puts into action every day," Mr Turnbull said, before he and his wife joined volunteers serving entrees to the hungry crowd.

Mr Turnbull's presence caused a stir with dozens surrounding him for a chat, a selfie or just a handshake.

The Wayside Chapel has hosted the Christmas lunch for about 50 years and inspired an entire movement of similar events across the country.

In its early days, the chapel catered to about 100 people, growing into the thousands during the 1970s.

"Since then other people have started throwing parties as well," Wayside's founder, Reverend Graham Long, said on Sunday.

"It's absolutely fantastic; the more parties the better."

Reverend Bill Crews, who runs a similar community luncheon in Ashfield, began helping the needy with Rev Long before founding the Exodus Foundation.

"It was more about making sure people weren't alone on Christmas Day," Rev Long said.

"We know that the number one issue is isolation and it doesn't matter whether you're with money or without, isolation is the number one issue."

One example of that is local Kenny Caines who wandered the streets of Sydney for five years, homeless and alone, before he was helped by Wayside Chapel volunteers.

"They were instrumental in me getting a place to live. I'd have been still wandering the streets if not for them," he said.

"Graham's a great friend of mine, as are all the staff."

The community was treated to numerous courses, including prawns, meat and vegetarian skewers, turkey and dessert.

Many spent the time dancing, as carols and other jolly tunes filled the street.

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