Dalston restaurant serves up festive Italian dinner for hard-up families

Pictured clockwise form left are Edgar Agubelo, Maybane Gil 13, Marjorie Gill and Juan Gil, nine, ra

Pictured clockwise form left are Edgar Agubelo, Maybane Gil 13, Marjorie Gill and Juan Gil, nine, raising their glasses. Picture: Dieter Perry. - Credit: Archant

Dalston Italian restaurant Lardo served up lashings of Christmas spirit by welcoming dozens of hard-up families in for a free festive dinner.

Friday’s event is an annual tradition set up through housing charity Shelter, whose Tyssen Street “Hackney family service” works with people at risk of losing their homes.

Fifty of those are invited to the restaurant each year for what could be their only meal out all year.

It’s funded through £1 donations added to diners’ bills at restaurants throughout London in November and December, one of them being Lardo.

Shelter service manager Connie Cullen told the Gazette: “It’s amazing.

“They do the most beautiful food. “The people Shelter works with are often in really difficult situations, so they might not get a Christmas meal together or any Christmas presents.

“It’s a way of celebrating so it’s a brilliant opportunity.

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“They’re so happy afterwards.”

She added another commercial backer, estate agent CBRE, donates Christmas presents so all those who dine – about 30 of whom are kids – get something to take away, too.

This was the third year it’s taken place. Another charity, Street Smart in Clerkenwell, collect the £1 donations and hand them out to good causes like Shelter.

“It came about because Lardo wanted to give back to the community,” added Connie. “Street Smart put them in touch with us and said we were just round the corner.”

The Hackney family service works with people in temporary accommodation, and those who have been recently rehoused.

It launched in 2014 and also offers people in difficulties advice on how to keep their homes. It helps about 350 families a year but its operation is part of a larger London hub run by the charity that helps thousands.