A rise in the number of families seeking help from the Ramsgate Salvation Army food bank has prompted the organisation to launch a Christmas present appeal for children and young people this year.
It is the first time the Ramsgate branch has made a present appeal specifically aimed at helping families but the squeeze on the cost of living has seen demand for help widen to many who would not have been at crisis point before.
Ramsgate Salvation Army corps officer Carl Whitewood said: “We usually tend to see people on their own, maybe with the classic addiction issues, as users of our food bank but now we are seeing a lot more families.
“We never felt we needed to get involved in this type of fundraiser before because we weren’t seeing a lot of families. We would have presents and often social services would phone us a bit before Christmas to see if we could help but we are taking a more strategic approach this year. We will be offering what we have through family liaison officers and children’s centres as well as to families we already know about.
“I think we will be seeing more difficulties. Although the media has been talking about it for a while, now is when it will be getting cold and people will need heating and will be worrying about how they will top up their meters.
“I know there are Government schemes and I have been talking to Thanet council about Kent County Council issuing vouchers in addition to payments but there will still be people making difficult choices about whether they can afford food, presents and heating for their homes.”
Carl says the branch has created an Amazon wish list – although he welcomes people using our town shops – and a system to give families the dignity of choosing presents that will suit their children.
He aims to use a system of tables with price related items and families able to choose a set number from each to make sure gifts are fairly distributed.
Carl is also warning that the toughest time is likely to be in January and February when people are feeling the impact of their spending from Christmas and temperatures generally plummet.
The Christmas present appeal was launched this week by Carl and Ramsgate mayor Raushan Ara.
‘Generous and caring’
Cllr Ara said: “Carl Whitewood of The Salvation Army is a trusted and active member of Ramsgate’s community. Through the Salvation Army, Carl has helped to provide services and space for diverse groups to join together in community spirit.
“Our town has shown how generous and caring it can be through the worst of times, and this Christmas I hope we can share that generosity again.
“Ramsgate Salvation Army is appealing for Christmas gifts for children whose families are struggling for a variety of reasons, such as homelessness, low income, and the high cost of living. Bring joy to a child’s Christmas Day as their secret Santa and share the spirit of the festive season with another family.
“Whatever you can donate will be appreciated. Together we can make this holiday season a joyful one for all our children.”
If you can donate new and unwrapped presents for a young person, the gift can be taken to Ramsgate Salvation Army, Tesco Westwood or Ramsgate Garden Centre.
Or you can go the Salvation Army Christmas Present appeal gift list on Amazon. The gift you buy is then delivered directly to the Salvation Army.