A Stevenage charity has thanked a cafe in Hitchin after staff opened the doors on Christmas Day to feed the homeless and collect donations.

Caffe Elite in Bancroft served free Christmas dinner to the elderly and rough sleepers while raising money for Stevenage Haven, who provide shelter and support for single homeless people.

Gareth Watts – a support worker from the charity, which also runs North Herts Sanctuary in Hitchin – thanked the cafe for their kindness in a letter, which read: “On behalf of everybody in our organisation I am writing this letter to all of the staff and customers at Caffe Elite in Hitchin to say thank you for your kindness and your generous donations to the Haven and Sanctuary projects in the run up to Christmas.

“The festive season in particular can be a sad and lonely time for many, and is often made worse for those in our community who find themselves homeless around that period.

“The generous donations we received from the staff and customers of Caffe Elite enabled us to make a huge difference in creating a positive experience of Christmas.”

Speaking to the Comet back in December, Caffe Elite owners Salih Kaya and Yusuf Cakir explained their decision to support the homeless.

“We took over the cafe September 2017 and there was one or two homeless people, but this year we noticed a big increase of homeless people,” they said.

“We would ask elderly people ‘are you looking forward to Christmas?’ and there reply would be ‘no, as I’m alone’.

“So we decided to open our doors to bring the community together and enjoy a Christmas lunch.”

Gareth was keen to thank Salih and Yusuf personally, writing: “Salih and Yusuf have shown incredible compassion with their gesture of opening on Christmas Day to provide a free meal for the less fortunate members of our community and the amount of hard work they put into making it happen is commendable.

“They have gone over and above, and we cannot thank them enough.

“The donations from the customers have been incredible and totally overwhelmed our residents.

“The generosity and community spirit shown by the people and businesses of Hitchin genuinely warms my heart.”