Community news: Pilgrims Hospices, KCF, Northdown Primary, Breathing Space and Marie Curie

Pilgrims tree recycling scheme, with a bit of help from WW Martin

Pilgrims Hospices

Pilgrims Hospices Christmas tree recycling is returning for Thanet residents this festive season.

Don’t feel stumped when it comes to saying farewell to your festive fir, as Pilgrims Hospices can help you enjoy a hassle-free end to the festive period with their environmentally-friendly Tree Recycling service. You won’t just be spruce-ing up your home, but you will be helping the charity to deliver vital end-of-life care to the people of East Kent, one tree at a time.

Leaf the hard work to our brilliant team of volunteers, who will collect your real tree from your doorstep, and take it away to be recycled. All you have to do is register your tree on the Pilgrims website and make a donation of your choice. In return, your kind support will help Pilgrims Hospices to continue supporting patients with a terminal illness to live well for the time they have.

What’s even better is that whilst helping to support the charity, you will also be reducing your environmental impact. The collected trees are chipped into mulch or compost, which is then used to nourish gardens and green spaces, reducing waste and benefiting the environment. So your tree’s onward journey is far more valuable than just being put out after Christmas.

Kate Duddell, Head of Fundraising said: “It’s really important to dispose of your real tree in a sustainable way. We are grateful for the support of Thanet District Council, and the huge number of volunteers, and local businesses who give up their time to help us raise vital funds in early January.

“Last year’s Christmas Tree Recycling campaign raised in excess of £57,000 and an amazing 3,150 real trees were collected by Pilgrims Hospices across east Kent. We hope the lovely and supportive Thanet community we help to do the same again this year.”

“The scheme is delivered with the fir-tastic support of Kent County Council, Kent’s Household Waste and Recycling Centre (HWRC), FCC Environment and Thanet District Council. All are helping us to recycle the trees and play a big part in the success of the campaign- we couldn’t do it without them!”

The doorstep collections will take place between 5th – 8th January 2024, but you need to register by midnight on Monday 1st January to book your collection. If you live in Broadstairs, Ramsgate, Margate, Westgate-on-Sea, Birchington, St Nicholas-at-Wade, Minster and all the surrounding villages Pilgrims elves will come and collect your real Christmas tree!

Each year Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to thousands of people in east Kent who are coming to terms with an illness that sadly cannot be cured. The charity supports patients to live life as well as possible until the very end, free from pain and distress.

To register your real Christmas Tree, please visit:

Kent Community Foundation

Kent Community Foundation has awarded £4,000 to the Angel Tree initiative to buy Christmas presents for the children of inmates at HMP Swaleside, HMP Elmley, HMP Rochester and HMP East Sutton Park.

The annual Angel Tree project was developed by the Prison Fellowship to give parents in prison the opportunity to send a Christmas present to their children.

The Prison Fellowship applied to Kent Community Foundation for  funding for the 2023 Angel Tree and were awarded a total of £4,000 from two of their philanthropic funds.

Andy Prescott, Head of Fundraising and Communications, Prison Fellowship said: “Christmas is especially difficult for people in prison and their children. The Angel Tree lessens the devastation experienced as a result of parental absence by not only helping families connect and build relationships, but by providing children with much-needed joy.

“Prison Fellowship volunteers work with prison chaplains and local churches to buy, wrap and deliver the presents. As long as people in prison are allowed access to their children, they are given the opportunity to apply for a gift to be sent to them. Each Christmas present is despatched as though from the parent in prison and is accompanied by a personal, handwritten message from the parent to their child which makes it extra special. The gifts are personalised as it is incredibly significant that a parent remembers their child, misses them, but especially knows them well enough to pick the right present.”

Natalie Smith, Director of Grants and Impact, Kent Community Foundation, said: “We received an application for funding to support the Angel Tree programme for gifts for prisoners’ children in four Kent prisons. Angel Tree is a very simple and incredibly rewarding way to help prisoners stay in contact with their families during imprisonment, which can contribute to reducing re-offending rates. We had previously awarded funding for the 2021 Angel Tree and we were delighted to help again with £4,000 from two of the philanthropic funds we manage, which like to support initiatives that aim to improve the lives of disadvantaged vulnerable, marginalised or at risk children.”

Angel Tree supports people in prison in their family relationships, providing a way for them to give Christmas presents to their children. The focus is on promoting and building relationships between children and their parent in prison, contributing to family cohesion, and in turn a reduction in reoffending. Children and young people who have a parent in prison are the unseen victims of crime, serving an unintended ‘hidden sentence’, caught up in events over which they have no control.

To contact Kent Community Foundation about funding for charities and community groups call 01303 814500, email [email protected] or visit

Northdown Primary School

Year 4 pupils at Northdown Primary School, Margate, were challenged recently to make a gingerbread house as part of their Design and Technology lessons. They began the project by following a recipe to create the perfect gingerbread biscuit needed to construct a house fit for Hansel and Gretel.

Weighing, kneading and mixing the ingredients, the youngsters put their practical maths skills to good use. Before tackling their final creation, they experimented with prototypes, testing different techniques and styles.

Some found their biscuits were too crumbly so needed to carry out some emergency repairs.

Year 4 teacher, Hayley Hughes, explained: “The children showed great resilience in working with the biscuits as they were breaking and needing fixing, but it didn’t deter them. It was such a useful exercise working from an original plan and having to adapt it on the spot.”

Tashie, age 9, enjoyed the experience: “It was fun because we got to make the gingerbread and mix all the ingredients. My house was a bit broken but I stuck it all together with icing.”

However much fun the designing and building was though, it couldn’t compete with the best bit…the taste testing!

Breathing Space scheme

A total of 370 people in Thanet have accessed the government’s new Breathing Space scheme since it launched in May 2021, according to new official figures. National Debtline – which is one of the free debt advice charities able to register people who are eligible for Breathing Space – is urging more people to seek advice as the cost of living crisis continues.

Breathing Space – also known as the Debt Respite Scheme – gives eligible people who contact debt advice services like National Debtline the time to seek advice and start to find a safe route out of debt, without being subject to creditor collection and enforcement activity. The scheme was launched in 2021 and provides up to 60 days protection, and pauses any additional charges or interest for that period.

In the last year, National Debtline has helped 208 people in Thanet tackle their debts, including through the new Breathing Space scheme. To mark ‘Talk Money Week’, the charity-run service is urging Thanet residents who are worried about their finances to contact their debt advisers for free, independent advice as soon as possible.

Seeking advice has a positive, long-term impact, with, nine in ten National Debtline callers reporting that their debts reduce or stabilise – and seven in ten seeing a positive impact on their emotional and mental wellbeing.

David Cheadle, acting Chief Executive of National Debtline’s parent charity, the Money Advice Trust, said: “The cost of living crisis has had a huge impact on household finances and people in Thanet and right across the South East are struggling to cope. In the last 12 months alone, National Debtline advisers helped 208 people in Thanet through our free phone service – including registering people who are eligible for the government’s new Breathing Space scheme.

“But we know there are many more people who are struggling alone – and no one should have to do that.  I would urge anyone in and around Thanet who is worried about their finances to contact our advisers at National Debtline, who can give you the advice and support you need.

“Our advisers are here to help – and can see if you are eligible for the Breathing Space scheme to give you the time and headspace you need to make a plan.  Everyone’s situation is different, and even if you aren’t eligible for this particular scheme, our expert advisers can help find the best option for you.”

Thanet residents can speak to a National Debtline adviser for free, independent advice – including on the Breathing Space scheme – over the phone on 0808 808 4000, or get advice online at

Marie Curie

End of life charity Marie Curie is calling for people in Kent to help bring care, comfort and joy this Christmas by fundraising for its Christmas Appeal. 

 Marie Curie believes everyone experiencing death, dying or bereavement should be able to have the best Christmas possible which is why it is encouraging people in Kent  to host a get-together this Christmas.

 Whether it be a Christmas quiz, carol-oke session or a cosy hot chocolate morning – they will be helping to raise the much-needed funds to help Marie Curie support people facing the toughest of times this festive season.

 The charity is dependent on fundraising and public donations so that Marie Curie Nurses and healthcare professionals can provide expert hospice care, whatever the illness, in the comfort of home. Marie Curie helps people with any illness they are likely to die from including Alzheimer’s (and other forms of dementia), heart, liver, kidney and lung disease, motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s, and advanced cancer.  

The money raised also funds the charity’s free support line and webchat, which is available to anyone with an illness they’re likely to die from and those close to them. It offers practical and emotional support on everything from symptom management and day-to-day care to financial information and bereavement support.

Over the next five years Marie Curie aims to double the number of people across the UK being cared for and supported in homes, its hospices and through its free information and support services.  

 To find out more about how you can give care, comfort and joy this Christmas visit or contact your local Community Fundraiser, Florin Diaconu on 07872418098 and / or [email protected].uk

 To donate to Marie Curie’s Christmas Appeal, visit: