Foundation spreads festive cheer with Christmas 2021 programmes

Christmas can be one of the most difficult times of the year for those who already face challenges or might be struggling with loneliness, exacerbated further by the continued impact of the pandemic. In response, the Foundation sought ways to lift people’s spirits. In December they worked with Westminster City Council and local charities to deliver gifts to some of the most disadvantaged and in need. This included:

  • delivering 350 Christmas hampers to some of the most lonely and isolated older people in Westminster
  • supporting some of the most disadvantaged younger people and families in need by donating a total of £36,000 of gift vouchers

Working with Westminster City Council and local charities, we ran three projects in December to deliver food and shopping vouchers to those most in need in Westminster including young carers, children who have recently left care, and families in need.

The Foundation worked with Family Lives and DreamArts, two charities working in Westminster, to support Young Carers living in Westminster. These are carers from 7-17 years old who provide support and fulfil caring responsibilities for their parents and/or siblings. Young carers can often feel lonely and “apart” from their peers at school due to their caring responsibilities. We identified 63 young carers to support and provided a £30 voucher to enable them to be able to treat themselves to something special this Christmas.

“My family was delighted to receive this, especially before Christmas, as we live in a refuge and mum was panicking that this would be the first year that she wouldn’t be able afford to provide Christmas dinner and gifts for us. Luckily you sorted this out with your gift”
- Young Carer, voucher recipient

The Foundation worked in partnership with Westminster City Council’s Children Services team to identify Care Leavers who would benefit from our support this Christmas. Care Leavers are aged 18-24 and will very often find themselves alone with no family to visit during the festive break. We gave 313 care leavers a £40 shopping voucher so they can afford to buy themselves something special to enjoy over the Christmas period.

[above] Young carers receiving their gift vouchers

The Foundation worked with Westminster City Council’s Families team to identify 220 families in need (including 640 children) who we could support. Families that are already struggling with poverty, and often with other problems too, struggle even more at Christmas with the pressure of providing a special Christmas meal and gifts. We gave each family in need a £100 shopping voucher to allow them to buy either food or presents for a chance to celebrate a better Christmas.

“Thank you so much. I had a lovely surprise yesterday. It was so kind because I am housebound, I live alone and I’m not able to go shopping myself, so I am very grateful. Thank you very much for your kindness it is so appreciated. Wish you all a very merry Christmas.
- June, hamper recipient

We also delivered 350 Christmas hampers to people aged over 65, identified by Westminster City Council as being most in need. Each hamper included a selection of festive treats including mince pies, cheese biscuits, Christmas pudding and a bottle of wine. They were delivered by local volunteers from the Westminster Connects team, as well as Westminster City Council staff and Councillors.

[above] Christabel Flight and Cllr Heather Acton delivering hamper to Westminster residents

Matthew Sykes, Chief Executive of the Sir Simon Milton Foundation said: “We have been giving hampers to some of the most lonely and isolated older citizens of Westminster every Christmas for many years. And this year once again we are delighted to be partnering with Westminster City Council and their wonderful volunteers to deliver them. For many this is not a season of joy and happiness and facing the pandemic for a second year has made it harder still. We hope that these gifts will lift their spirits and show them they are not alone.”