Gifts from strangers will bring hope to hundreds of people who will spend this Christmas in emergency accommodation in the Bristol area.
The presents have been donated by community group SLS to residents housed by Connolly & Callaghan, which is the biggest provider of temporary emergency accommodation for people at risk of homelessness in the Bristol and South Gloucestershire area.
Mairead Connolly, operations manager at C&C, said: “This really is what the spirit of Christmas is about and the residents are very grateful to all those who filled shoeboxes with gifts.
“Anyone who is referred to us because they have nowhere to live have been through a very difficult time in their lives. Being in such a situation at Christmas can be particularly distressing, and it will mean a lot to receive a gift from a stranger and know they haven’t been forgotten.”
Sharon Winter, C&C senior administrator, added: “We’ve never before experienced generosity on such a scale, and have been very touched by the care and thoughtfulness that has gone into the gifts put together for men, women and children.
“The lid came off one box I was carrying and I saw a little note inside from a 14-year-old girl called Mia who had chosen the Christmas gifts. It included a paragraph which read: ‘I hope you have a great day. If there are ever times when you are down, remember the good things in life – even if they are small’.”
C&C, which will be providing shelter to hundreds of people in its properties during the festive season, was given 500 shoeboxes containing Christmas gifts, 177 selections boxes, plus toys, clothing, toiletries and other resources which were gathered from well-wishers by SLS with the assistance of Edge Assist Street Life.
SLS, which stands for Street Life Sarnies, provides sandwiches for homeless people throughout the year and collects Christmas gifts for them during the festive season. Edge Assist Street Life is a street side mercy ministry which provides food and clothing for Bristol’s homeless in all weathers.
Richard Townsend of Edge Assist Street Life said: “The SLS Christmas shoebox appeal has been brilliantly supported this year. My house has been taken over by shoeboxes in the garage, the conservatory and lounge.
“Nevertheless, we have been so blessed by the absolutely wonderful people we’ve met through this appeal. People are so kind and generous. Together, we hope to bring a little of that warmth and love to those in need at Christmas.”
Claire Day, founder of SLS, said : “We're delighted to have once again been able to bring a little Christmas cheer to so many who need it the most. Working with Connolly & Callaghan means we know donations from our members really make a difference, and we look forward to building this relationship in the future.”
PHOTO: Staff at Connolly & Callaghan with some of the gifts donated for people spending Christmas in emergency accommodation. Left to right: Isabella Matthews, Emergency Accommodation Manager; Mairead Connolly, Operations Manager; Sharon Winter, Senior Administrator.
Issued on behalf of Connolly and Callaghan by Empica 01275 394400.