Rallying cry launches to pull Portsmouth's community together for Christmas to help city's needy

Today, The News launches our Christmas campaign to bring Comfort and Joy to our community’s most vulnerable people.

By Annie Lewis
Friday, 29th November 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 29th November 2019, 7:18 am
Sarah Collett, Claire Haque and Georgina Joyce of Two Saints.
Picture: Habibur Rahman
Sarah Collett, Claire Haque and Georgina Joyce of Two Saints. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The Comfort and Joy Campaign returns for its third year following last year's success which raised more than £14,000 through readers’ generosity.

The campaign – in collaboration with St Mary's Church, charities and support services covering Portsmouth, Havant, Fareham and Gosport – aims to help those in need with a Christmas card and a supermarket gift voucher at what can be one of the hardest times of the year for some.

Now Father Bob White from St Mary's Church, Fratton, who runs the campaign in partnership with The News, is looking forward to making a difference once again.

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Pictured: Hillary Frost. Peter Harris, Kate Roe and Anthony Boothroyd. Picture: Habibur Rahman

He said: ‘It’s great and often overwhelming to see the generosity of the local people to support those in need.

‘The hope is that we raise both money and understanding of the challenges some people face.

‘We give the gift of choice through the gift cards, which is important. Sometimes its better for the individual to decide what they want for themselves rather than have it bought for them, which makes the campaign unique and special.’

Readers are encouraged to purchase a £5 gift card from stores such as Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Argos and write a Christmas card which would be given to an individual helped by one of eleven incredible charities, including Catherine Booth House, which provides support for homeless families; Friends Without Borders, which supports asylum seekers while their applications are processed; and the Society of St James which works with homeless people not engaging with other services and runs a day centre.

Father Bob White. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Mark Waldron, editor of The News, said: 'I am always so pleased to see the generosity of our readers make such a difference to those who are less fortunate in our community.

‘We raised more than £14,000 last year and hopefully this year will be better than before.

‘We're very proud to support such a great cause.’

The Christmas cards and gift vouchers will be collected by the churches and in letterboxes at superstores which are then distributed out to the 11 charities. The end of the campaign will be marked by a carol celebration at St Mary's Church on December 20 where the gift cards will be handed to representatives from each charity.

Father Bob White with all the various charity groups at St Mary's Church, Portsmouth. Picture: Habibur Rahman

A postbox will be in Fratton Tesco from today. Community champion Gemma Morrison added: ‘It has improved with each year we have done it and customers love it.

‘We’re happy to provide an alternative drop-off for gift cards and help the campaign’s success.'