PORTSMOUTH has a chance to make a difference this Christmas thanks to a campaign launched by the church and The News.
The Comfort and Joy Campaign is back after last year’s success and Father Bob White from St Mary’s Church in Fratton is hoping for the best year yet supporting a range of charities.
Reverend Canon White said: ‘People are aware that the popular image of Christmas is a time we would be gathering around the family.
‘For some, that perfect image is not one they are able to share.
‘It's about holding on to the idea that we are looking after one another. It's about the here and now, rather than worrying about what may or may not not be the future.
‘The one thing we can control is what we do as individuals.’
Residents are encouraged to purchase a £5 supermarket gift card and Christmas card which will be given to someone supported by 11 organisations including Two Saints, who help the homeless, The Lifehouse, a drop-in for those whose lives are affected by homelessness and addiction, and Southern Domestic Abuse Services, which provides emergency respite for women and children.
Mark Waldron, editor of The News, said: ‘We're delighted to launch our Comfort and Joy campaign for 2018.
‘As this fantastic initiative highlights, the issue of homelessness is not limited to our streets. It is a reality threatening many on the margins of our society, even behind closed doors.
‘A single donation can make a real difference and give someone a gift they may not otherwise have this Christmas -- the gift of choice.’
Last year the campaign raised more than £12,000 and over nearly two decades the church has raised £140,000.
Rev White added: ‘It is about both raising awareness and the needs of those on the margins and it is about giving them the sense they are cared for and respected by others.
‘It's enabled some people to put their vouchers together and have a special meal to share with each other.
‘It gives them a sense of choice and they can do what we all take for granted.’
Postboxes will be placed in Tesco stores in Fratton, North Harbour, Fareham and Gosport and shoppers can post their gift cards and Christmas cards.
Fratton Tesco Community Champion Gemma Morrison added: ‘It is a delight to be involved in this campaign again.’