In a surge of festive generosity the owners, contractors and tenants of Alconbury Weald have made Christmas that little bit brighter for hundreds of local children and families in need by donating £15,000 worth of gifts and supplies to Cambridgeshire Social Services (CSS) and LoveOxmoor Foodbank.
The donations rolled in after Gary Ridgewell, Senior Project Manager for Urban&Civic, followed up an email to the tenants and contractors of Alconbury Weald and encouraged them to give generously to this worthy cause.
Gary said: “Social Services’ Children’s Christmas Gift Appeal is such a good cause and I didn’t want the email to be overlooked so I spoke to some of my contacts and the response has been overwhelming. All of us who donated are delighted that we have been able to add some festive cheer to local people who might otherwise be struggling at this time of year.”
As the appeal is for gifts rather than a financial donation, Urban&Civic’s Victoria Parchment spoke to Bobby Billinghurst who is overseeing the appeal for CSS, to find out how the money could best be spent to benefit children in need during this festive period.
Bobby was able to advise about the diverse range of gift options, which would meet the needs of all of the age groups they support. Given the sum of money, he said they would also welcome games for use in their supervised contact rooms - where children and their families are encouraged to play together – as well as bedding for cots and single beds, underwear, socks and pyjamas for all ages to support families in need of basic provisions.
As part of Urban&Civic’s on-going commitment to supporting local businesses, the team wanted to spend the money in Huntingdon town centre - working with Colemans, James Cox, Krafty Kats, Mothercare and Niche Comics to ensure the money benefitted the local economy too!
Victoria said: “It would have been easy to sit online for a couple of hours to spend this amount of money, but this was an excellent opportunity to work with some of the longstanding shops in Huntingdon High Street. Everyone has been so helpful and enthusiastic and the Buttsgrove Centre was not short of volunteers who helped to wrap and allocated the presents.”
The money collected bought over 750 individual toys and gifts ranging from cuddly toys and animal poppers to musical boxes and puzzles as well as 145 books by popular authors for early years through to 18 year olds. The additional useful items bought include around 130 card and board games for use in the contact rooms, 100 changing mats, over 100 PJs/sleep suits and a range of bed covers.
Karen Sizeland, Group Manager of Children’s Social Care in Huntingdon said: “I would like to extend our warmest and heartfelt thanks for the incredible gifts donated to CCC Children’s Social Care this year. The range, quality and sheer number of presents has been truly overwhelming. Our team have been really touched by the kind, thoughtful generosity shown by people living and working in our local community.
“Social care and other agencies are committed to working with and supporting families to make sure their children are safe, healthy and enjoy similar life experiences as other children. The hard work and commitment to providing high quality social work practice for the children and families in Cambridgeshire shows great tenacity and resilience in the face of adversity. The support by local communities and business makes a huge difference to supporting some basic necessities that maybe we all take for granted in family life: sheets, duvets, pillow cases, underwear, pyjamas, toys, books………this is why we sincerely appreciate your kind and generous support.”
Urban&Civic also wanted to support families on the Oxmoor Estate, so have donated some of the money raised directly to LoveOxmoor Foodbank for their ‘100 Hampers Appeal’.
Adrian Woodbridge from Medway Church said: “We work as part of Huntingdon Community Area Partnership (HCAP) where we work with families on Grub Hub, which is for families to gather and share a nutritious meal and an opportunity for the children to engage with various art activities.
“This year we are extending our Christmas Hamper Scheme and through HCAP will be delivering 100 hampers to families that are struggling this Christmas. The local community has come together to donate goods – including a collection from the tenants and contractors at Alconbury Weald - and time, to make this possible and it is shaping up to be a real community event.”
As well as Urban&Civic, contractors and tenants who have donated are: Bradley Murphy Designs, David Lock Associates, Whitings Landscape, Professional Demolition, Peter Brett Associates, J Breheny, RG Carter, JJM, Spotlight Productions and Chestnut Farm House Creations (who are making biscuits for the hampers).
Tim Leathes, Development Director of Urban&Civic said: “We are very grateful for the generosity of our contractors and design team who responded to the call. The team effort that has gone into making this work really shows what can be achieved when we work together, with partners locally, for a good cause.”