Appeal brings Christmas to life for care leavers

Published Wednesday 16 December 2020 at 11:31

An appeal to donate Christmas gift boxes to care leavers has been inundated with kind donations.

The ‘Christmas gift boxes for care leavers’ appeal was the idea of the Council’s Leaving Care team who wanted to make sure that care leavers know we’re thinking about them this Christmas.  They asked people to donate festive gift boxes for care leavers to open on Christmas day – for many care leavers this may be their only gift.

Alison Hartley, Leaving Care team manager, said:

This is the second year of the appeal and the response was phenomenal!  A total of 236 gift boxes were donated, which means that every care leaver aged 18-21, plus some over 21 and some under 18, which the Council supports, will receive 2 gift boxes.  We’ve also had £1300 in donations with further monies to come in. The care leavers don’t just live in Blackburn with Darwen, they can live anywhere in the UK, and the Leaving Care team are endeavouring to give out all the gifts personally to the young people, no matter how far the journey is.

Deborah Benmore, who also manages the Leaving Care team, added:

The managers and the team would, on behalf of all the care leavers, like to say a massive thank you to all those who have supported the Christmas gift box appeal.  It’s been lovely to hear the feedback from the young people, one of them told us how overwhelmed they were with the gifts and that someone had taken the time to put the gift box together for them.

Staff at the Council rallied together to donate gift boxes.  The Local Council Roads Innovation Group (LCRIG), which is based in Blackburn, also worked with local highways suppliers to raise £2400 to fund 86 care parcels, enough for every care leaver aged 18-21.

LCRIG Community Interest Manager, Georgia Ingham, said:

It was a pleasure to support Blackburn with Darwen Council to ensure that each of the care leavers receive a Christmas present this year. This initiative firmly fits with LCRIG’s Community Interest Company (CIC) status and we look forward to continuing to support important community initiatives such as this in the future. It was fantastic to see such support from the ‘highways community’ supply chain who all donated generously again this year.

SUEZ also donated £500 towards the Christmas gift boxes.  Ed Best, SUEZ’s Regional Manager, said:

It has been a tough year for everybody so we are pleased to be able to spread a little festive cheer and make this contribution towards Christmas gifts for care leavers in Blackburn with Darwen. SUEZ has a strong relationship with Blackburn with Darwen Council and we are delighted to support their initiative to provide every young person leaving care in the borough with a Christmas hamper.

Each gift box is worth around £35 with typical gifts for young women including a furry hot water bottle, pyjamas, socks, toiletries, perfume, slippers and festive goodies, and young men receiving a dressing gown, socks, aftershave, slippers, grooming products and festive goodies.

Cllr Julie Gunn, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, said:

This is a wonderful idea from our Leaving Care team and it’s brilliant to have the support from our partners. The contributions from LCRIG and Suez will go a long way in ensuring that our care leavers will have some fantastic presents to open on Christmas Day.  We know how difficult this time of year can be and are extremely grateful for everyone’s generosity. Knowing that someone has taken the time to choose gifts for each of the young people will hopefully show what they mean to us and how we are thinking of them. All of our care leavers aged 18-21 will wake up to a parcel packed with treats and gifts on Christmas morning thanks to the generous contributions from staff across the Council as well as from our partners and businesses. My sincerest thanks go to everyone who has helped and made such generous donations.

And the festive spirit doesn’t stop there!  Young people in care and vulnerable families are being supported this Christmas by Edge Hill University who are supplying 101 food parcels to ensure no one goes hungry over the festive period.

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