Salford steps up to make Christmas special

Kind-hearted Salfordians have stepped up to the plate to make Christmas special for young people who are or have been in care.

Unable to lay on a Christmas dinner because of COVID-19, Rotary in Worsley members, volunteers with Salford CVS and Salford City Council’s Next Step team, which supports care leavers, are taking Christmas to the doorsteps.

Volunteers have already started distributing food hampers and gifts and on Christmas Day morning 16 volunteer drivers will turn Santa to deliver the last remaining ones.

Tony Clayson, President of Rotary in Worsley said the plan had been to team up with internationally famous Manchester poet Lemn Sissay MBE, himself a care leaver, and his Gold from the Stone Foundation to put on a sit-down Christmas dinner.

“Lemn set up the Foundation in 2013 so no care leaver will feel alone. The Christmas Dinner is an annual celebration for care leavers and their children and we’ve never done it before in Salford,” said Tony.

“We can’t invite people to a sit-down meal this year so we decided to take Christmas to them instead. Rotary in Worsley raised all the funds and secured the volunteers needed in just four weeks which is amazing and makes me so proud of the people of Salford. Our aim is to make this an annual event with, hopefully, a sit-down meal on Christmas Day.”

Volunteers and staff from Salford City Council’s Next Step team will deliver 101 hampers to young people in supported accommodation and those who live alone, some of whom have children of their own. Among the gifts being distributed are hand knitted blankets and teddy bears for the children made by a local Salford knitting group and a subscription to the Salford Imagination Library, set up by country singer Dolly Parton, which mails a book each month to children from nought to five years old.

The Gold from the Stone Foundation advises groups which want to support care leavers with the Christmas Dinner. It is the first time Salford has been involved and it is only of only 18 cities in the UK which are taking part.

On Christmas Day, in addition to receiving their gifts, all care leavers will be invited to join an online Christmas greeting event prepared by The Gold from the Stone Foundation. It includes a personalised video greeting from TV celebrities and an online Christmas Day quiz delivered by Santa and one of his elves, courtesy of Rotary in Worsley.

Alison Page, Chief Executive of Salford CVS said: “Our volunteers have done a fantastic job supporting vulnerable people through the pandemic and they jumped at this chance to deliver a bit of Christmas cheer.”

Deputy City Mayor Councillor John Merry said he could not thank the team enough for rising to the challenge.

“Our refuse collectors launched the Santa Appeal a few years ago and our staff and the public overwhelmed us with toys and gifts to make sure children and young people in need didn’t miss out on Christmas.

“Rotary in Worsley and Salford CVS played a huge part in the success of the toy appeal which, unfortunately can’t run this year because of the pandemic, so I’m delighted that once again they and the people of Salford have been so generous and supportive. It will bring a bit of light at the end of a very dark year.”

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Date published
Monday 14 December 2020

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