CHRISTMAS should be a time for families, of loving and giving.
And over the festive period, most of us will have also tucked into enough food and drink to sink a battleship.
But for many, like the homeless and needy, the reality of Christmas was a time of loneliness and despair.
But one Accrington charity, the Maundy Relief Trust, on Abbey Street, showed these people that there is someone out there willing to give them not just practical help, like money, clothes, baby equipment and food, but also some understanding and compassion where others have let them down before, every day of the year.
Since last January the charity has seen 43,777 visitors and 61 counsellors have dealt with 190 different issues. They received no central government funding.
The charity's founder Dorothy McGregor, 75, said: "Christmas should be a new life for people and a rebirth. For a lot of people it's anything but.
"Quite a few people stay in bed all day to get through the day.
"Housing, homelessness and domestic issues, any problems tend to resurface and become more intense."
She added: "We see absolutely anybody, any age, any religion. We act like a kind of family and give a family atmosphere and provide what so many miss, even though it's so little.
"We access the inaccessible and go the extra mile. We try and resolve some things so everybody feels better when they come here.
"We are at the coal face of poverty and need."
Every day in the festive period, including New Year's Eve, the charity is laying on an all-day buffet.
Volunteer Helen said: "This time of year is really hard because it's Christmas and people haven't got this and that and they haven't got family and they want company.
"That's why we are open Christmas Day. They can at least get something to eat and have a chinwag."
Fellow volunteer Ruth Monohan, who works in the kitchen, said: "I have been volunteering for nearly three months. It's surprising that you do see a lot of homeless people in Accrington. This time of year is a bad time to find people housing places.
"I was surprised when I started what actually goes on and how they deal with it but you just muck in."
Toni Walker, 19, of Devonshire Street, Accrington, is a client at Maundy Grange. She said: "I come here for help with housing and a variety of things. I have had food parcels. Life without it would be bad. There'd be no-one to turn to."
Her friend Lisa Dwyer, 34, of Burnley Road, Accrington, said: "It's been a good help to me has Maundy Grange., especially at this time of year.
"I took somebody else's child in recently and I haven't had any benefits.
"I come here every day, I'm part of the fixtures and fittings. I've been coming here for about seven years."
And Jeanette Cunliffe, 43, of Grange Street, Accrington, said: "Maundy Grange is just there to help and when you are feeling down you can talk about anything. I think everyone would be lost without it. It's a daily ritual for me to come here."
For more information on the charity or to make a donation call 232328.