Charities thank Portsmouth's generosity as thousands of pounds from News and churches' campaign go to helping our city's needy this Christmas
Thank you for your kindness and generosity.
That was the message from the 11 charities which received thousands of gift vouchers after more than £12,000 was raised through The News Comfort and Joy Campaign this year.
During a carol service celebration at St Mary’s Church, Fratton, representatives from each charity collected bags of £5 supermarket gift vouchers that have been kindly donated by readers since the end of November.
Karen Dolling, a chaplin for The Salvation Army, said: ‘Today we are celebrating the generosity of people within this city as we marvel at the amount of money that has been raised.
‘Care, kindness and generosity has shone through this community.'
Claire Haque, service leader at Two Saints, said: ‘The vouchers provide not just a gift of kindness but a gift of choice. It actually gives them the opportunity of how to spend it and for that, we thank you.’
The benefiting charities – including The LifeHouse, Friends Without Borders, The Roberts Centre and many more – support hundreds of young adults, refugees, families, the homeless and those struggling with mental health issues, addictions and victims of domestic abuse.
Brett Haynes, a senior worker at the homeless day service of the Society of St James, said: ‘It’s portrayed everywhere that you should be joining your family at Christmas but a lot of people do not have any connection to theirs.
‘The support offers charities such as ours to lend an extra arm to what we do and it’s amazing, so thank you.'
The aim of the campaign was to give those in need a gift of choice at Christmas and show that people care about those on the edge of society.
The sum of £12,000 is not teh final amount as many people post their vouchers, meaning more are still coming in.
The Rev Canon Bob White, who led the Churches Homeless Action campaign, explained that the gifts mean more than the money they represent.
He said: ‘These gift vouchers are significant not because of the money they represent, but it shows that recognition that the gift that means so much is the gift of choice and love.
‘We have made just under £12,000 so far but we are heading in the right direction to hit £14,000 this year.’
As well as members of the public, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr David Fuller, and leader of the council, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, also attended the ceremony.
‘This is going to help so many people in the city it’s unbelievable,' explained Cllr Fuller.
‘To think how much we have raised is amazing.’
Editor of The News, Mark Waldron, added: ‘As always, it's been a pleasure to work alongside Churches Homeless Action to raise awareness and money for these great charities in our area.
‘I want to say a big thank you to everyone who donated and made this campaign a success once again – it literally does bring some comfort and joy into people's lives this Christmas.’