Public urged to help vulnerable children in Norfolk this Christmas
published on 27 Nov 2020
The Salvation Army’s Toys & Tins Appeal has seen a 37 per cent increase in referrals for vulnerable children from social services, schools and support groups with more expected before December.
Every year, members of the public generously donate gifts and food for children and families who might otherwise go without at Christmas. Toy parcels and food hampers are then packed and distributed to those in need by Salvation Army volunteers.
In 2019, The Salvation Army initially received requests to help 2,261 children. This year, the initial figure is 3,106, a 37 per cent increase. By the end of the 2019 appeal, the church and charity had helped 2,994 children across Norfolk. The number of children benefitting from the 2020 appeal is expected to rise again before Christmas.
Organisers are concerned that they will not have enough presents to meet demand and are calling on the public to donate online.
Major Barry Willson, coordinator of the county-wide appeal, said: “We are determined to bring the hope and joy of Christmas to families in need across Norfolk. We’ve already packed more than 1,400 food boxes but now, as our attention turns to the presents, our shelves are worryingly empty and the number of children coming to us is increasing.
“The pandemic means that the appeal has to look different, with volunteers and supporters needing to follow social distancing and local restrictions, but the numbers are showing that the need is greater than ever."
He added: "Children who benefit from the appeal have parents or carers who have been struggling to make ends meet and now have to make difficult decisions between buying food, paying household bills and affording the cost of Christmas. Many are on furlough, have low income, have been made redundant or cannot work because of poor health.
“We need the help of the great Norfolk public to ensure children don’t miss out on a present to open on Christmas Day.”
Gifts can include anything from soft and educational toys for younger children, to gift vouchers and toiletries for teenagers. The public is encouraged to donate online via a JustGiving page and Amazon Wish List but anyone wishing to drop off a new, unwrapped present is asked to contact their nearest Salvation Army before travelling as many centres have had to close due to the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.
Volunteers started packing food boxes and presents two weeks earlier than usual, as social distancing measures require them to work in smaller groups. Teenagers and young adults from Salvation Army churches have also stepped in to cover evening shifts as many older volunteers continue to shield.