HELEN BURTON: Christmas kicks off today (Friday November 18) in Seaside

Helen Burton

Helen Burton

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Today (Friday November 18) I am really looking forward to going to the BoHo Winter Light Festival. The festive season in Eastbourne will be kicking off nicely with this family friendly, free event, centred around Leaf Hall at 51 Seaside.

There will be a procession of lanterns made and carried by local school children winding its way from the Arndale Centre to Leaf Hall. Everyone will be welcome to join in and there will be spare lanterns available too! The procession will arrive at Leaf Hall to live music, craft sellers, stalls, traditional fairground rides, community groups, a children’s entertainer, street entertainers and a ‘Santa-esk Bohemian Grotto for the children’, whatever that is? Can’t wait to find out anyway! The event runs from 4-9pm. The Devonshire West Big Local team have a £1 million pound lottery grant which is being spent in the area over ten years, and they are able to give grants to organisations working in the area for the benefit of the community, including the BoHo event. There is so much community spirit in and around the Devonshire Ward, with a lot going on locally. It might be the most deprived ward in Eastbourne but you wouldn’t know it these days. I love visiting Devonshire, there is so much to do there. One project that is close to my heart is based in Devonshire now. Café Waste-Not is Eastbourne’s Real Junk Food Café, receiving weekly hauls of food that would otherwise go to waste from Tesco. The food is turned into meals the following day to serve to residents and staff of Charlies (Eastbourne YMCA) which is served on a Wednesday lunchtime. Members of the public are able to pop in and ‘pay what they feel’ for lunch and leftover meals are frozen for Charlies resident to eat during the week. This clever group also give items they can’t use to the Foodbank, with the Foodbank supplying them with some staple foods. Everybody wins! The most recent menu was veggie dal, potato and cabbage bake, veggie mac and cheese and salted caramel banana crumble. Wow. Do pop along and support them by sharing food with them and paying what you can for lunch. You can follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cafewastenot There are lots of creative projects springing up now in Devonshire, including the Devonshire Collective, an art gallery acting as a creative and cultural hub in Devonshire West, with studios, makerspaces, workshops, a gallery and a café. Another place to go is Leaf Hall Community Arts Centre, a beautiful building well worth a visit in its own right. There are lots of regular events there, my favourite of which is the monthly ‘Green Café’ night, but the café is also open for light lunches and cakes every Tuesday - Saturday 11am-3pm. With some funding and, more importantly, a dedicated bunch of volunteers running events, projects and making improvements, it is amazing how a community can pull together to make a difference.