Christmas spirit to help stricken families

Jorja Griffiths-Barnes, Ryan Remme, Louie Brown and  Sarah Bell
Jorja Griffiths-Barnes, Ryan Remme, Louie Brown and Sarah Bell
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A Christmas Wish Tree appeal has been launched to deliver some festive cheer to South Ribble women’s refuge, Clare House.

Many families using the service have had to flee their homes due to domestic violence and have left behind all of their possessions, including Christmas presents.

Other women and their children that the refuge works with have little or no food and struggle to heat their homes or pay bills.

The idea of the Wish Tree is that each decorative tag on the branches gives a ‘wish’; for example, a Barbie doll or a box of chocolates.

You buy the gift and then return it unwrapped with the tag to the tree.

Staff from the women’s refuge will then collect the gifts and distribute them in time for Christmas.

Child support worker Sarah Bell came up with the idea 12 years ago after seeing a similar initiative to help the homeless of Seattle.

She said: “I think it’s a really nice way for people to help someone else at Christmas that doesn’t cost a lot but can mean a huge amount to the person receiving the gift.”

She added: “Each year the people show such wonderful Christmas spirit with their overwhelming support of our wish tree appeal.”

The Christmas wish trees are located at Progress Housing Group’s head office on King Street, Leyland and at South Ribble Borough Council’s Civic Centre on West Paddock, Leyland. Gifts will be collected at noon on Thursday, December 12 in time to be distributed before Christmas.

Wish Trees are also located at Stonehouse Nursery in Leyland for children and parents to donate gifts, and for staff at Runshaw College in Leyland.

Since South Ribble women’s refuge opened its doors in 2000, it has provided a safe haven to over 650 women and their children. The refuge staff also support women in their own homes through its community resettlement service.