Christmas can be a tough time for many, and even more so for families living in women’s refuges, or children living alone in care, up and down the country. There are many children across the UK that do not receive Christmas gifts.
We asked our clients to help us support the small but mighty charity, 4 Steps To A Smile, to help them provide Christmas gifts for children, particularly after such a difficult Christmas 2020. We caught up with charity to find out how they did.
Founded by Linda Sandhar-Haynes in 2001, 4 Steps To A Smile aims to give survivors of abuse the tools and life skills needed to seek help and rebuild confidence and strength. In particular, they support women escaping from domestic violence in shelters and children living in children’s homes.
Their simple purpose is to help vulnerable people and children find their feet, by supporting them with clothing and food, and of course, Christmas gifts.
“2021 has been incredible,” confirms Linda. “Considering the effect the pandemic had on so many, the generosity has been overwhelming.”
“We found that so many more families and children were left with issues they just couldn’t cope with, due to work, illness and above all poverty.
“All of our referrals come from Social Services, support workers, local schools and councils. The pandemic certainly has seen an explosion in the number of referrals with so many needing food, clothing, even help with travel and other support – the list is never-ending.
“Most people don’t realise that we start to put our Christmas plan together in September! We have to start early as there are so many individuals in need and it is all managed by just three part time volunteers. We provided over 10,000 gifts for Christmas 2019, including food parcels!
“This year, 12,500 children received Christmas gifts from 4 Steps To A Smile! We were incredibly humbled to be able to help so many. Your support has been incredible, and you have helped so many children still believe in the true spirit of Christmas.”
What’s new for 2022?
“Although Christmas is our biggest campaign, and we have only just completed that, 2022 starts with a brand new campaign!
“We took inspiration from a charity in the North to make sure that children get a decent night’s sleep. Through our own research, we have found many children to be sleeping on the floor, or on a sofa, then going to school tired and grumpy. Our new campaign aims to provide each child in need a bed, and bedding.
“This will see our future generation be able to concentrate better and, as a result, get a better education, while knowing that someone out there cares about them. In most cases, and in our experience, this is not the parent’s fault, it’s a broken system.
“In addition to that, we also run campaigns for Easter, Mother’s Day, school uniform support and more, including a campaign called ‘It’s my Bag’! With ‘It’s my Bag’, we fill a suitcase up with lots of items for a specific child, which could include clothing, a ‘worry monster’ (so many children benefit from this), colouring books, crayons, coats, shoes, underwear, and a mirror, so that we can encourage them to always look at themselves and see the strength within.”
Well done A-Plan Bromsgrove!
The Bromsgrove branch was delighted with the outcome as confirmed by Tim Jennion, Bromsgrove’s Branch Manager.
“4 Steps were over the moon with the contribution, one of the biggest donations to date – we were able to deliver almost 400 gifts thanks to the generosity of our clients and community! We should all be very proud so many children will have a present this year due to our combined efforts.
“A massive thank you to everyone who has given support to this campaign and helped to make 400 Christmas wishes come true!”
If the 4 Steps To a Smile story has touched you, please do follow Linda and her volunteers on Facebook where you can keep up to date with their latest activities. If you would ever like to donate items to them, you can do so directly, or by popping your donation into the Bromsgrove branch.