Cheryl's story

“I celebrated Christmas with a new extended family"

Cheryl struggled to make ends meet and had no money in the run up to Christmas, with three children.

Cheryl is a single mum in her 40s with three sons, of whom she is immensely proud and lives in Buckingham. Cheryl heard about our Toy Appeal when she was worried about creating a joyful Christmas for her three children, all under the age of 10. Earlier in 2018, her partner left and she has struggled financially over the last two years to keep things going.

She has a range of personal challenges and one of her sons is autistic and also has ADHD. One of her challenges started 15 years ago, when she lost her grandmother. She said: “I felt very lost after my grandmother died, and started drinking to ease the pain of her loss, as she was like a mother to me. I used to binge drink and I could drink anything”.

Cheryl is recovering from alcoholism and bulimia but has also found new friendship and people she can confide in at The Salvation Army, where, last year, she shared a Christmas meal with her children with a host of other people, at the corps (local Salvation Army church). Shortly before that, Cheryl had quit drinking.

Cheryl sitting on a bench
“Christmas day was amazing, there may have been 30 people at the corps, sharing Christmas lunch together”.
Cheryl on Christmas at The Salvation Amy

Cheryl said: “My autistic son struggles a lot and The Salvation Army Captains talked to him so well. It was a lovely Christmas lunch and the potatoes were perfect! They gave the kids a little gift, story books and I got a mug with hot chocolate. For the last two years my children have received toys through the toy appeals, which has made Christmas extra special for them. Captains Vanessa and Xander know my children and the sort of things they like.

“Christmas day was amazing, there may have been 30 people at the corps, sharing Christmas lunch together”.

Before coronavirus came into the UK, Cheryl became actively involved at the church and even sold The Salvation Army’s ‘War Cry’ magazine she said: “I suffer with mental health challenges and struggle to meet new people, sometimes I sell the War Cry for the corps and it has helped me gain confidence with being outside and speaking to people”.

Cheryl has special memories of Christmas with The Salvation Army last year: “It was the first time that we’d felt part of family, surrounded by love. I wasn’t on edge (as I use to be), I was relaxed and happy”.

Cheryl is taking things one day at a time, “If I’m really struggling, I can catch up with Vanessa in the park at a safe distance and talk things through”.

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