Christmas Appeal a success thanks to local support

In November 2020, we launched our Christmas Meal Appeal to provide a hot meal to people affected by homelessness.

When approaching winter, we started thinking about what service users think about the festive season and asked them to talk about what they felt when it comes to Christmas – and built our appeal on their words and feelings at this time of year.

This connected with our supporters who came together to support our appeal in numbers greater than ever before. We are delighted to announce that our final total on JustGiving stands at over £16,000 raised by 269 supporters since the appeal was launched. Over £1,100 of this was raised by the King Johns Morris Men of Southampton, who put on an online Mummers Christmas Performance to help raise money for SSJ.

Thanks to your generosity, we were able to spend £4,500 on Asda Gift Vouchers for residents, approximately £4,200 on Christmas dinners for residents with suitable facilities, and where this wasn’t possible the Cafe in the Park produced a special Christmas hamper which was distributed to residents. As you can see, this appeal really did make a difference to people affected by homelessness.

We are delighted that the Christmas Campaign exceeded the target by well over £10,000 online and thank everyone for their support. This means that the additional funding can be used, as we stated in our campaign, towards helping vulnerable people take the next step forward in their lives.

For some this will help to secure the ID needed to access benefits once they take the first steps off the streets, for others it might be to fund the first months bus pass to get them to a new job, a rent deposit perhaps or even smart clothes for a job interview.  For others, it will allow us to fund activities that help people find ‘a little joy in their lives’ and to find something they are good at like music or a sport for example.  This then becomes their impetus to change behaviour and to want to fulfill their potential.  So thank you for your support in making this happen.

Throughout the year we will run various blogs and stories to demonstrate how your generous donations have been used.

As well as this, we have received donations from businesses across Hampshire.

The team at Fair Ways, a local charity-owned children’s service provider, donated 100 backpacks for our service users which included items such as toiletries, warm clothing, and more. The handover was completed in December as the team from Fair Ways met with SSJ CEO Trevor Pickup who received the backpacks on behalf of the charity before they were distributed across our projects.

As well as this, the smart energy company, Utilita, donated jumpers, socks, and other items for our service users which were all gratefully received. The items were shared across our projects and service users enjoyed the warm jumpers and socks in particular.

Commenting on their support, Utilita said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Society of St. James. Their help with vulnerable people experiencing homelessness, problems with alcohol and substance use is vital in the community.

 The Shirley Utilita Hub want to work with local groups that support the people of Hampshire,  and SSJ’s focus on providing opportunities that get people off the streets, is a project we want to assist. Getting people into safe accommodation where they can receive the support, they need to change their lives for the better is an admirable goal.”

And as we reported back in December, The Rotary Club of Southampton also helped spread Christmas cheer by delivering hampers to our care homes.

Thanks also goes to the Southern Co-op, more than £1,500 was raised through a Christmas raffle, with all proceeds going towards our Christmas Meal Appeal. We are also grateful for the support offered by the Southern Co-op with the festive food bags provided by Cafe in the Park which made a massive difference to vulnerable people. We’d like to say a massive thank you to all staff at the Southern Co-op, we know it has been a tough year for key workers and we are grateful to have you as our corporate partner.

Staff from electronics company, Garmin (Europe) kindly chose to donate £5,000 which would have been used for their Christmas party to our appeal. We are delighted they chose to do this and hope by the time December 2021 comes the staff at Garmin can enjoy a Christmas party to celebrate the good things in 2021.

When speaking about the donations from local businesses, Trevor Pickup said, “2020 was a challenging year for people across the world, especially those who are affected by homelessness and other complex issues. The donations we received from local businesses helped lift the spirits of those who have little to look forward to at this time of the year. We know from feedback from our projects that the donations made a positive difference to all who received a meal. A massive thank you from all at SSJ.”

Thank you for your support during these challenging times, from all at SSJ.