“We have loved being part of the Hackney community these last 4 years and love being a part of a neighbourhood that is alive and vibrant and always full of life,” says Eliza Flanagan, owner of LARDO, in East London.

Demonstrating the restaurant’s commitment to its community, Eliza signed up LARDO to support StreetSmart the first year it was open and now it’s sister restaurant bebe is also on board. Over the four years they’ve raised £10,000.

Flushed with the success of raising money via customers’ £1 donations, Eliza and her team wanted to go a step further.

“We don’t close LARDO except for at Christmas, and so when we did the first year we wanted to use this opportunity to find a way to give back to the community we are in. We naturally thought of contacting Street Smart to see if they knew of organisation that might benefit from a charity lunch.”

StreetSmart put Eliza in touch with Shelter’s Hackney Family Project, a support service for families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in the east London borough, and between them they hatched a plan.

“Bethany from the charity explained to us that a lot of families in crisis often aren’t in the right situation to enjoy what we offer, but there are many families that have been through a crisis and are now stable with accommodation and this lunch is a good opportunity to see how far they have come and there is real reason to celebrate,” adds Eliza.

Plans are already in place for another festive lunch this year, open to any family that would like to celebrate Christmas at LARDO.

StreetSmart has helped the Hackney Family Project support hundreds of families in the borough, like Jane and her five children who were faced with the threat of eviction due to large rent arrears and spiralling utility bills. She was also struggling to keep her children in school. With money from StreetSmart, a support worker helped Jane and her family pay off their debts, move and up the children’s school attendance rate.

Bethany McNaboe, Grants and Philanthropy Fundraiser at Shelter, said: “Many families miss out on heating, electricity and even meals as they struggle to pay their housing costs. Occasions such as birthdays and Christmas can be incredibly tough times for these families: a painful reminder of everything they don’t have. That is why we were so thankful to Lardo for the Christmas lunches they have provided for the families for the past two years, in addition to the funds they raised for StreetSmart.

“Lardo served a wonderful feast of eight courses for the families, a huge treat for them when many had been concerned about not having the means to celebrate Christmas. This is just another example of how Lardo have been able to support the Hackney Family Project and we are so grateful to have this local support and for this partnership which came about through StreetSmart.”