Public donations support nearly 5,500 people in need this Christmas
The Salvation Army has handed over Christmas presents and food parcels for nearly 5,500 people across Norfolk following referrals from social services and agencies and direct referrals from families in need.
Thanks to donations of new toys and non-perishable food from members of the public, businesses, schools and churches across the county, The Salvation Army has been able to support more than 1,800 families facing a range of challenges, including unemployment and low income, mental health issues and disabilities, and financial pressures because of delays in benefits.
Approximately 15,000 toys have been donated, sorted and delivered to nearly 3,000 children who may have otherwise gone without this Christmas - from Great Yarmouth to King’s Lynn, Sheringham to Diss. 2,223 of these children were referred to The Salvation Army by social services and agencies. This is a 38 per cent increase in comparison to last year’s appeal.
Major Barry Willson, coordinator of the Toys & Tins Appeal, said: “The number of children and families who will benefit from this appeal is overwhelming.
“The Christmas Story inspires as a church to spread a message of peace, joy, hope and love and to have an open door to people in need, not just at Christmas time but throughout the year.
“When many of us will be enjoying an abundance of food and presents, we know there are thousands of people in our community who are struggling to provide the basics for their families, including food and heating. But thanks, once again, to the incredible generosity of Norfolk people, these people will be able to enjoy some festive treats this Christmas. We are so grateful.”
One of the organisations that refer clients to the appeal is YMCA Norfolk.
Lucy White, 38, was one of thousands of people who benefitted from last year’s appeal. She was referred by YMCA Norfolk after becoming homeless and moving in to one of their centres that provides safe and supportive accommodation for single-parent families.
Lucy said: “I became homeless and moved into YMCA Norfolk housing in December. Being so close to Christmas, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get anything for my daughter.
“Then the toys and tins were delivered to us and it made the Christmas very special, especially as my daughter had been asking for a specific toy and the Play-Doh set was in the hamper.
“I was very impressed that they had geared the gifts to my daughters age range and I was very surprised there was some adult related things in there too as I will devote all of my money towards her rather than myself.”
Lucy now has a job and is hoping to move into her own home with her daughter and partner in the coming year. She said: “I think that the Toys and Tins Appeal is wonderful. It helps struggling families that have been left with very little have a wonderful Christmas”
Darryl Smith, Operations Director at YMCA Norfolk, said: “The YMCA and The Salvation Army work closely throughout the year, especially to support people who are rough sleeping, but many people may not realise the YMCA refers families who need extra support at Christmas to The Salvation Army's Toys & Tins Appeal.
“The collaboration enables some very vulnerable families that are being supported by the YMCA to receive kindness from our community in the giving of toys and tins and other items which can make such a difference at this time of year.”
For more than 30 years, The Salvation Army’s Toys & Tins Appeal has been transforming Christmas for families in need across Norfolk. The appeal is supported by BBC Radio Norfolk.
For more information about the Toys & Tins Appeal, please visit @toysandtinsappeal on Facebook or www.salvationarmy.org.uk/toys-and-tins-appeal.