Massive demand means Community Kindness- Thanet must find storage space to continue gift scheme

Sonia Knight began the gift scheme in 2020 and demand has grown substantially

A project which provides vulnerable families and individuals in Thanet with gifts on occasions including Christmas says demand has grown so huge that it must find a space for storage and distribution to be able to continue.

Community Kindness-Thanet was set up by Thanet resident Sonia Knight in November 2020. Initially created to help just for the festive season it soon expanded to provide gifts throughout the year, from birthdays to Easter and more.

The scheme operates through referrals from schools, social services and Early Help workers to make sure those most in need are helped.

But need is so great that last Christmas Sonia had almost 1,000 referrals and sent out nearly 4,000 gifts.

Sonia, who lives in Margate with husband Doug, has been storing and distributing from her home but this has become increasingly difficult with gifts from donations to the scheme taking up rooms in the house.

Sonia says referrals for Christmas help are huge

Sonia, has a 20-year background in supporting vulnerable adults and children, said: “When I started this in 2020 I had no idea we would reach the scale and proportions we now have.

“It was easier to accommodate storing, sorting and allocating until we reached the levels we are now seeing with nearly 4,000 gifts to almost 1,000 referrals in Thanet over last Christmas.

“Every single one of those was a referral by professional agencies which indicates the level of need there is. It is just no longer doable from my home. My spare bedrooms have been taken over and I also work full-time so was trying to get everything allocated and sorted on my own at Christmas as I can’t just have people dropping in at the house randomly.

“The only way to continue is if we can secure somewhere. It has to be somewhere I can lock up because there are some really valuable donations but I need to be able to access it outside of 9am-5pm because those are my working hours.”

Sonia received a donation from the Westgate & Birchington Inner Wheel

Sonia says that because Community Kindness Thanet is an unincorporated charity she is not able to access funding and to be a charity would make it a full-time job which is not her aim as she does not want to take a wage from it.

She said: “I’m in between a rock and a hard place but it is needed so much and it means everything to me.”

Sonia says ideally she would need a space the size of two garages or shipping containers where shelving can be put up and she has all hours access.

She said: “I know I am asking for the world almost in the current climate. I don’t want to keep asking people for help but do not know what else to do. Community Kindness Thanet should not have to be as big as it is, it shouldn’t be so needed, but it is.”

She added: “There are over 10,000 children living in poverty across Thanet. Community Kindness – Thanet will always do what we can to meet the needs of those referred to us but I am just one person, operating from my home with no access to funding and working around my full time job.”

Every donation made to the scheme for Christmas and other occasions goes directly to providing for those referred with the only extra cost being JustGiving fees. Sonia does not take a wage and pays for extras such as raffle tickets from her own pocket.

If you are able to help contact Sonia via the Community  Kindness – Thanet facebook page here

7 Comments

  1. Plenty of empty premises in Thanet doing nothing & the lady is in reality asking for very little for the benefit of the community-over to you TDC.

    • What money is that? None of us have the ability to let her have a vacant property that has been sitting there boarded up, or with whited out windows for years collecting dust.

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