22/12/2016 - Permalink

Making Christmas special for Shropshire care leavers

Related topics: Children's services / Partner organisations

For the past four years, Shropshire Council’s leaving care team has run “Operation Christmas Care Leaver”, a scheme for Shropshire Council staff to provide gifts to those that have recently taken their first steps of independence outside the care system. We are pleased to announce that 2016 has been the most successful year to date, with more donations than ever.

Some of the many and varied gifts for children who are leaving care

National Childbirth Trust volunteer Zoe Marsh delivers some bundles to Jane Wimbush, from Shropshire Council’s leaving care team.

Each year in October, the team send 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.

David Minnery, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children and young people, said:

“The kindness shown by Shropshire Council staff and our partners in donating gifts to care leavers is an example of Christmas spirit at its finest. I hope to see ‘Operation Christmas Care Leaver’ continue to grow and be a tradition we can be proud of for many years to come.

“A lot of 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, whilst a shoebox 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 are 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 are making sure not to forget them this Christmas, sending boxes as far afield as Glasgow and Dorset.”

This year has seen awareness of the scheme increase outside Shropshire Council, with donations coming in from organisations such as National Childbirth Trust who have made up ‘baby bundles’ especially for care leavers with babies/toddlers, including essentials such as nappies and wipes, plus gifts for both the parent and their little ones.

One grateful care leaver said:

“Very nice and thoughtful. It made me smile and I’ve not been doing much of that lately. My little girl loved the tea set and it’s one of her favourite toys.”

Every young person deserves a present at Christmas and thanks to the many donations, we are able to ensure none of our care leavers are forgotten. Each and every one living alone will receive a gift box this year.

Shropshire Council would like to send a resounding “thank you” to all that donated time, gifts or money to this very worthy cause.