In the weeks leading up to Christmas generous Northants Telegraph readers backed our annual Gift Appeal and donated hundreds of presents which were then distributed to those in need across the county.
Here, some of the social workers share their stories and report back on what a difference the appeal made to the people they work with.
I would like to give feedback on the lovely gifts I was able to hand out to some of my families.
One family was very surprised to receive some gifts and talked of how nice it was to have a gift as they had been unable to purchase many gifts and could not afford what the child wanted.
I was told they had told other family members how grateful they were and the child told me he had made the Lego kit and played with the action figure – with a smile on his face.
I was unable to get to one family before Christmas so on delivering the gifts they were opened with me and I spent time building a meccano model with both children, which was particularly heart-warming, as they do not often play well together. Thank you very much
I handed out three presents so far.
The young people were so delighted. It gave me great pleasure to see the look on their faces.
Thank you for your kind thoughts and for making these young people feel special.
Parents were very grateful and were informed where these came from, which was an unexpected surprise. The children all had lots of gifts given to them that you have provided and clearly loved these and has made their Christmas experience a happy one!
I would like to thank Jeannette Walsh and all the people who donated present to us. I brought some round for all the little children and adults who are homeless and they were so grateful and call me Mrs Christmas.
Have just given a beautiful handbag to a young person. She was a little upset over an argument with mum and was absolutely delighted with the bag. She said with big smile on her face. Thank you so much, it’s gorgeous.
Can you please pass on my thanks for the gifts donated for the families I am working with. Many of the children have little to no toys and the items I gave provided immense joy for the children.
Some children were permitted to open the presents as they received them.
Two children specifically were so pleased with the jigsaw puzzle and singalong microphone. Their Mother was extremely grateful for these items. The children squealed in delight.
Other parents took the gifts and have since come back to me stating how pleased their children were with each item.
From each of my children I work with I thank each and every donation I was able to hand out. They are always welcomed and do make a difference to the child who receives them
I just want to express gratitude on behalf of the children that received the gifts from you.
The children were very pleased especially two siblings who had been told (by their mother with mental health problems) that Christmas had been cancelled. The presents made them have a positive feeling during Christmas.
Thanks also from a dad and mum of five who are going through financial pressures and were finding it hard to get presents for all the kids.
One of my families has four children and she lives in temporary accommodation. The children range between two and 14 years old. Since moving to the borough the family have moved around different bed and breakfast accommodation so their life has been really unstable.
None of the children are in school. All their belongings were stolen and the only presents they received this Christmas were the ones that were donated.
They were overjoyed with the presents they received. This has given them something to do, for example the jewellery-making kit and the craft activities they have made.
I would like to say a big thank you for all the donations of such wonderful toys, the majority of our families have very limited funds and we were able to give them presents to which they would not have received any.
Again all of your kind donations have made our children in Northamptonshire very happy.
Family A’s story
The family was evicted from their home and staying in temporary accommodation. Mother had not been able to buy any presents for her two young boys (five and seven) as she had spent all of her money on moving to the accommodation and buying meals for her children as there were no kitchen facilities.
Mother was due to have a baby over the Christmas period and has no support network in the area. Mother was very upset at the thought of not being able to ‘give the children a Christmas’.
Thanks to the generous donations received, we were able to give Mother toys for her children. Mother and her children were able to enjoy their Christmas together with the arrival of a baby girl. Her son had asked for a truck for Christmas and was over the moon when he opened one on Christmas day, we were even able to give a teddy for the baby. Mother was so grateful, the donations made a real difference to her and the children’s Christmas.
On behalf of the children – thank you very much for the Christmas present, especially the rocking horse! This really helped the family out due to them experiencing difficulties.
Just wanted to provide some feedback from a family the Christmas appeal helped.
The family has five children, one who was recently accommodated, and sadly who lost their father in August 2016. As you can imagine the family were at an emotional low and the mother was struggling financially and at one point did not know how she was going to manage buying gifts for her children not just for Christmas but also one on her sons had a birthday on December 19.
The giving of gifts and food parcels were amazing, the mother was so overwhelmed by the generosity and became quite emotional. The mother has since fed back that this generosity lifted a massive weight from her and the children had a wonderful Christmas.
We took some toys to a family on December 20.
They were very happy with the presents. It made a difference as the youngest of the children who never engages with me was very engaging and looked very happy to see me this time.
I gave a present to child who lives alone with his mother before Christmas and he was extremely happy with it – it was a wooden train set and he wanted it there and then which mum agreed. He wanted to get it out immediately and set it up which mum assisted with – I then played for a short time with him also. I also gave Christmas presents to a family of five children. The eldest child said that I was the best social worker as she got a mirror and some body wash – the other children were happy with their toys.
I delivered the Christmas presents which were donated. The first family was a 16-year-old girl who is living with her auntie and uncle as well as their two children. There have been ongoing communication difficulties and feelings of rejection from the teenager.
I gave them some nail set and make up that the teenager can use with her cousin as well as her auntie. She was very pleased and thanked me for the donation.
The second family consisted of a mum and dad with four children aged 1, 8, 12 and 13. I left the family some deodorant and bath sets as well as a colouring book, pens and Hulk soap. The look on the 12-year-old’s face (he has additional needs) when I gave him the soap was priceless. He couldn’t wait to put it in his shower and hang it up. The mother was very grateful and thanked me for all of the presents.
Thanks again for all your hard work and commitment.
I just wanted to pass on to you that I gifted a Next lady’s wash bag and a giant bear to a local 17-year-old girl and a Next boys wash bag and a book to her brother and a bag of food.
This young girl currently lives with her mother, who has mental health problems and her younger brother.
There is no extended family support and the family is isolated. There is very little money available for buying presents and the food in the home is usually convenience foods. Both children are obese.
The girl is currently under the care of a dietician and the food I donated, from what you brought in, was chosen from a list of recommended foods for the family such as tinned fruit, soup and veg.
The gifts were very warmly received particularly as neither child usually receives any ‘surprise gifts’, particularly ones of good quality. Mother said: “Thank you for the gifts and food. It’s good to know that people are thinking of us at this time of year.”
Your support has helped a mother of two teenage girls who has alcohol issues and feeling overwhelmed with managing Christmas. Her comment was ‘oh thank you so much this means everything’.
Your support has helped a working family of three children 14, 11 and three. However, they do not have enough money to meet all of the bills and have at times had to use food bank. Parents said that this was so helpful and thank you.
I have three families, with 10 children altogether, who have had benefit problems just before Christmas.
They haven’t been sanctioned – this is through no fault of theirs.
They were all desperately worried about buying Christmas presents for their children, so the presents have been a godsend. It was great to have toys for different ages too.
I have had fun trying to deliver the presents secretly to the parents, without the kids seeing, so they can wrap them and have something to give the children on Christmas day.
I won’t be there to see the children’s faces when they open them, but the parents were all smiley and happy to get the toys.
I just wanted to pass on a family’s thanks. I delivered a board game and nail varnish set to them yesterday. They were very happy that they have a new game to play over the Christmas holidays and have planned a pamper day at home to do each other’s nails.
The families that I gave to were very appreciative of all the lovely gifts, this helped some of the families that had little money to be able to provide the children with gifts.
The children that I have visited since have talked about some of the gifts that they were given and appeared to be very excited about receiving them, for example one little boy had a scooter and he was keen to tell me all about this.
May I extend the appreciation from the two families I am working with in particular. I am working with a single parent who has four children and her benefits were stopped leading up to Christmas. She did not have money for gas and electric, let alone for Christmas presents.
Due to your support mother was given initially some Tesco vouchers, with which she was able to prepare a proper Christmas dinner for the family, which children reported that they really enjoyed.
Children also received Christmas presents which were almost about the only gifts they received, had it not been because of your generosity, these children would not have had such a wonderful experience over Christmas. After Christmas, mother’s benefits were still not reinstated and the family received additional Tesco vouchers, which has been much needed help. The second family is a family of eight, where father is not employed and mother has a part-time job. The family’s income is such that they are not able to buy all children presents but this year children received a significant number of presents.
This Christmas, you have made a significant impact to these families and their Christmas experience was positive. Words cannot express how thankful these children are to your support.
The gifts again this Christmas have provided a message to the young people that there are still people and companies out there that do care. I do not underestimate how difficult it is to continually undertake this task each year, particularly in the current financial climate when giving is not as easy but in saying this Mother Christmas has delivered again this year and it is very much appreciated.
I have a single parent who struggles financially and gave her a friendship bracelet making kit for her daughter, seven years old, which was perfect as she loves crafts.
The parent was very thankful for the gift and being able to give her child presents on Christmas day. I gave the child a small beauty cracker to give to mum, the child was thrilled that she had a present to be able to give to her mum as they have no extended family she can ask to help her or a buy a gift on her behalf.
The child asked for thanks to be passed on and her words “This is amazing, my mummy now has a present to open on Christmas day, thank you!”
I donated Christmas presents to three children who are in a refuge. Mother was overwhelmed with joy, as she is unemployed and has no money whatsoever to buy Christmas presents for the children. Mother asked to say a “Big thank you to Mother Christmas and thank you for thinking about us.”
I had the pleasure of giving numerous toys to various families. It was highly appreciated. As we work with children with disabilities, the sensory toys were a hit and siblings also benefited. I also took a few toys to our respite unit to be used when children visited during the festive period.
Many thanks for all you do.