We did things a little differently for Christmas 2020 and are so delighted that we did!
For the first time, we ran a specific appeal to help us to buy Christmas Gifts. We received many donations and match funding from the DCMS through the Localgiving fundraising platform. This allowed us to plan ahead and to buy ninety personalised gifts for Lifeline and Life Skills clients and two hundred and three £20 toy vouchers from The Entertainer for the children of people receiving Bath Foodbank parcels.
In past years we have asked for actual toys which was lovely but, in hindsight, we were limited to the types of toys that were donated and by Christmas Eve we may have found it difficult to find an appropriate gift. The change to toy vouchers meant that parents were able to give their child a gift they knew they would like. Older children could be given the vouchers to choose their own gifts too. Having the choice is empowering and we hope that it helped people to feel the joy of choosing and giving of presents to our loved ones.
This year we also helped dads who may not have seen their children for a while but would be seeing their children at Christmas. They may otherwise have struggled to buy a present but instead of going empty-handed they could take a voucher for each child as well as chocolate and other Christmassy treats.
For many people at Lifeline and Life Skills this may have been their only gift. The staff, Paul, Ivana, Sean and Sue thought carefully about each person and really enjoyed planning, buying, wrapping and giving each present. And as ever with the giving and receiving of gifts the thought that goes into it does count. “Thank you, you thought of me when you bought that.” was one man’s response. “How did you know that that was what I wanted?!” was another. There is no secret other than that throughout the year there is listening, understanding, friendship and trust at the Gateway Centre. We hope that everyone felt known, valued and deserving of love this Christmas.
Another first was that instead of our usual big party at the Gateway Centre we held socially distanced Christmas dinners for 48 people in 8 sittings over 2 days. “I haven’t had a proper roast dinner for ten years – thank you!” was just one of the comments. The menu was either traditional roast turkey or a vegetarian nut loaf and all the trimmings which were cooked by our amazing and talented volunteer Dan and his sous chefs the Genesis staff Ivana and Sue. Paul, Manager of the Gateway Centre, said that “The Christmas meals were lovely this year; they were small, almost tranquil affairs where people enjoyed the food, their presents, the company and were very appreciative of the efforts of the cook!’
A big thank you must go to Dan in particular for making this possible. He is a trained chef but has not been able to work for a while. However, after the success of the Christmas dinners he has said that his confidence has been boosted and he is ready to start applying for jobs again. Let us hope that 2021 brings job success for Dan.
So, thank you to the wonderful community, churches and businesses around us for supporting the Christmas Gifts Appeal and for donations so that we could host such special Christmas dinners. We are so grateful too for all the other donations of festive food, money and volunteer time that helped bring some light, joy and hope to the individuals and families that we serve.