Vulnerable people given chance of better Christmas

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KIND-HEARTED neighbours have donated more than £13,000 towards a goodwill scheme so homeless people can have a better Christmas.

The annual homeless voucher scheme, run by Churches Homeless Action, asked residents in and around Portsmouth to put £5 vouchers in a card and sent them to collection points at local churches and schools.

Now all the money raised from this year’s scheme, which began in October, has been gathered up and distributed to 10 homelessness agencies and other similar services so they can give them to the people they support. The handover was part of a carol service at St Mary’s Church, Fratton, which also celebrated everyone’s contributions.

Canon Bob White, vicar of St Mary’s, said he was overwhelmed by the response.

‘It was great to once again mark the Christmas season with a variety of colleagues from churches across the area, staff and volunteers from the agencies and clients whom they support,’ he said.

As previously reported in The News, the goodwill scheme has been running for 11 years and the latest donations bring the total raised to a staggering £100,000. Every year a carol service is held to mark the end of the initiative, which Mr White said gives disadvantaged people the choice to spend the vouchers on what they need.

‘It was particularly good to be able to distribute the vouchers that have been donated,’ Father Bob said.

‘This means in the last 11 years we have now raised more than £100,000. To be able to share the precious gift of choice and show our respect and care for others is a very simple thing to do, but such an important action. I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported the scheme this year - there’s been an amazing response.’

Sue Harrower, service manager for Southern Domestic Abuse Service, in Havant, said the vulnerable families she works with will be grateful for the gifts.

‘A lot of the families that come to us have nothing, so this will be such a massive boost to them. It will buy them food and clothing and anything else they need. I amazed by people’s generosity and I want to say a big thank you to Bob for holding such a wonderful carol service.’

The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor Frank Jonas said: ‘Considering the financial climate it’s amazing that people have given the amount they have.

‘Unfortunately in the year 2012 homelessness is still an issue.’