More than 5,000 Norfolk children and adults helped by The Salvation Army this Christmas

published on 20 Dec 2019

Generous donations from across the county will support struggling families

By 25 December, The Salvation Army will have delivered Christmas presents and food parcels to at least 5,296 people following referrals from across the county.

The final number of people supported will continue to rise as The Salvation Army receives requests for help right up until Christmas Day. In addition to referrals from social workers, schools and other charities, families struggling to make ends meet also directly contact The Salvation Army for support. Last year, The Salvation Army supported more than 5,500 people.

Each family referred to the Toys & Tins Appeal receives a Christmas hamper of food and each child receives on average five gifts, including one or two larger items and stocking fillers. With 2,878 children referred to The Salvation Army this year, it is estimated that volunteers have sorted, packed and delivered more than 14,000 gifts.

Major Derek Jones, the leader of The Salvation Army in Norfolk, said: “We are seeing the debilitating effects of poverty on families on a daily basis. This Christmas, when many are spending money on parties and presents, there will be thousands of people in our county who are struggling to meet basic costs such as food and heating.

“As a community-focused church and charity, The Salvation Army is uniquely able to help some of the most vulnerable and hardest to reach families in Norfolk thanks to our year-round support services and contact with social workers and schools.

“We are so grateful for the quantity and quality of the donations we have received this year that has helped us meet significant demand. Thanks to the generosity and community spirit of the people of Norfolk, thousands of struggling families who may have otherwise gone without will be able to enjoy some festive treats this Christmas.”

The Salvation Army has 15 churches and community centres across Norfolk that offer safe, welcoming spaces where people in desperate need can find a listening ear, compassionate support and practical help.

Carol McKean, community manager at Sheringham Salvation Army, said: “The Christmas story inspires us to provide something special for families in need at this time of year but we know families need more than toys and food at Christmas.

“Our doors are open throughout the year and we’re doing all we can to help people in financial difficulty but we need to see longer term solutions to help the most vulnerable.

“People rely on us for emergency food parcels and utility top-ups when their finances have been pushed to the limit, with many facing debt because of the five week wait for Universal Credit payments. The Salvation Army across the country is calling for an end to this dangerous delay.”

Carol is a qualified social worker employed by Sheringham Salvation Army to give practical advice and help to families in need. In addition to providing emergency food parcels and utility top-ups, families come to Carol for help with filling out benefit forms and liaising with social services. Since she started her role in May 2018, Carol has arranged one-to-one appointments with more than 120 people, helping them address the issues that have led to them needing support.

Carol added: “Families come to us saying they are worried about putting on the heating or that they’ve had to choose between paying bills and buying their children new shoes. Many of the families we support who are on limited income are facing multiple challenges at once such as unemployment due to seasonal work drying up, ill health, caring for a loved one, relationship breakdown or bereavement.

“We know that treating each person as an individual is the key to making a difference in people’s lives and thanks to the support we receive from the community we are able to give people the personalised help they need.”

For more than 30 years, The Salvation Army’s Toys & Tins Appeal has been transforming Christmas for families in need across Norfolk. This year, the appeal is once again supported by BBC Radio Norfolk.

For more information about the Toys & Tins Appeal, please visit @toysandtinsappeal on Facebook.

Norfolk gifts