Lincoln BIG joined organisers of the Advent Wreath Festival, run jointly by St Mary Magdalene’s Parish Church in Lincoln and the Bailgate Area Guild, to celebrate the handover of £1,359 to YMCA Lincolnshire towards its £1.6 million Nomad Centre, which will provide essential day services and emergency overnight accommodation for those in need, all under one roof.

The timing of the presentation at St Mary Magdalene Church in Bailgate coincided with work starting on the project, which will see the transformation of the YMCA’s building in St Rumbold Street in the city to create individual en-suite bedrooms and complementary support for users.

The latest festival, which featured about 70 beautifully decorated wreaths provided by individual businesses, schools and organisations, typically attracts thousands of visitors to the church. The event gave people the opportunity to enjoy 17 Christmas services over the four days of the Lincoln Christmas Market, including 10-minute carol services. Alternatively, they could pop in, light a votive candle and sit in quiet reflection.

This time the festival took place from November 29, during the Lincoln Christmas Market – from December 6 to 9 – and through to December 21. Speaking at the cheque presentation, the Revd Adrian Smith said: “Our latest festival was amazing. It was a real team effort, led by the church’s Organist and Master of the Choir, Christopher Brook and his wife, Deputy Church Warden Shirley, who rallied business to take part.

“We attracted a bumper number of 8,000 visitors during the whole Festival and 6,626 of them popped in whilst they were at the Christmas Market. Everyone was given a warm welcome and people were so generous. Their donations added-up to £2,718.

“We are absolutely delighted to have been able to split these funds between Nomad and the ongoing maintenance of St Mary Magdalene’s.”

YMCA Lincolnshire's Community Engagement Manager Rachael Baxter said: “We have just started work on creating The Nomad Centre, so we were absolutely thrilled to accept the donation, presented under the Diverted Giving scheme. 

“It will help us in our determination to provide accommodation which ensures that people have a place to go to 24-hours-a-day, all year round.”

Lincoln BIG Chief Executive Sarah Loftus said: “The Wreath Festival is a fantastic event which makes the most of one of the key periods in Lincoln’s busy calendar when the city attracts thousands of extra visitors.

“It is wonderful to hear how this event has resulted in so much money given to the YMCA’s Nomad Centre and it highlights what can be achieved under the Lincoln BIG-led Diverted Giving scheme, which encourages people to use the charity route to support those in need.”

Partners behind the Diverted Giving scheme say that not everyone seen begging in the streets is homeless, and they urge people to make a lasting difference by diverting donations to local charities working alongside those who need it most.

The scheme is supported by Lincolnshire Police, the City of Lincoln Council, Nomad, YMCA Lincolnshire and the Greater Lincoln Active Faith Network.