Making Christmas special for Shropshire care leavers
For the past four years, the Leaving Care team has run “Operation Christmas Care Leaver”, a scheme inviting council staff to provide gifts to those that have recently taken their first steps of independence outside the care system. We're pleased to announce that 2016 has been the most successful year to date, with more donations than ever.
Each year in October, the team sends out an appeal for ‘stocking filler’-type items, that are wrapped and distributed to young people that have recently left care in Shropshire. Gift boxes typically include some practical items such as soaps, deodorant, socks etc, as well as treats of chocolate, biscuits or a Christmas decoration for their home.
Karen Bradshaw, director of children’s services said:
“We're overwhelmed by the amount of donations we’ve had this year, and would like to say a huge thank you to all that contributed. Many care leavers don't have family around, and will be facing the prospect of spending Christmas by themselves. For a young person living alone, the boxes we give out may be the only present they get, and while a shoe box filled with small gifts can seem like a small gesture, it really does mean the world to our care leavers to receive something at Christmas. It gives them a little support and makes them feel special at what can be a very lonely time of year.”
This year sees more boxes than ever being handed out, and the donations of gifts are really just the beginning. The team is now busily collating, wrapping and distributing boxes all over the country.
Tracie Watson, leaving care team manager said:
“Whilst all our recipients are Shropshire care leavers, they may wish to take their next step elsewhere. Even if a young person moves away, we're making sure not to forget them this Christmas, sending boxes as far afield as Glasgow and Dorset."
One grateful care leaver last year said:
“It was the only present I had. It was lovely to have some nice things for Christmas. Thank you.”
Every young person deserves a present at Christmas, and thanks to the huge generosity shown by council staff, we're able to ensure none of our care leavers is forgotten. Each and every one living alone will be receiving a gift box this year.
A resounding “thank you” to all that donated time, gifts or money to this very worthy cause.