A Derbyshire housing trust providing accommodation to hundreds of people who might otherwise be homeless has teamed up with a well-known local business to spread festive treats amongst residents, who may otherwise face a cheerless Christmas.
Derventio Housing Trust, which runs shared houses for hundreds of people in Derby and Derbyshire – and other areas of the UK – wants to ensure no-one living in its housing misses out on festive cheer this year so has teamed up with Derby-based Colleague Box to provide festive treats to every household in the city and county.
The trust exists to provide housing to people who have either recently been through homelessness or are at risk of it. Now Derventio is asking businesses and individuals to support its Colleague Box campaign providing festive boxes to residents who may be facing a cheerless Christmas.
Derventio Housing Trust operates in five areas in the UK: Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Swindon. The appeal will provide hampers containing festive treats.
Jackie Carpenter, assistant director of strategy for Derventio Housing Trust, said: “We are blown away that such a fabulous local company with a big heart is supporting our appeal. At a hugely busy time for them, they have taken on putting together these extra boxes for us and we couldn’t be more grateful.
“We know how much this will mean to residents and we’re excited to think how much they will enjoy opening up a Colleague Box of festive treats.”
Natalie Bamford, who with her husband Adam set up Colleague Box, said that the business was delighted to be working with Derventio Housing Trust.
Natalie said: “Community is important to us and when Derventio first approached us about being involved in creating these special boxes, we knew that it was something we would love to be involved in. These gifts will have a huge impact on the lives of those needing the support and it is a real honour to be involved.”
One Derventio resident living in Derby told how his Christmas last year had been lonely as he was unable to visit family. This reduced him to eating a meal of baked beans on toast on December 25, since his three housemates were with their family while he was not.
Michael *, 50, has been living with Derventio Housing Trust for the past 18 months, his life having spiralled out of control after a relationship breakdown, and being unable to carry on working as a machine setter due to his epilepsy and mental health struggles.
He said: “Christmas last year was so lonely for me. It’s heart breaking when you don’t see your family.”
Derventio Housing Trust wants to spread a little festive cheer this year by providing every shared household with a hamper containing seasonal goodies such as a Christmas sweets and cheese snacks.
The housing trust is currently providing accommodation for 200 people in Derby and 130 in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Across the UK, the housing trust supports 650 people.
Many Derventio residents are struggling with their mental health; some have no family, while others have become estranged from theirs. For most, Christmas is a huge struggle both emotionally and financially.
The housing trust is appealing for local businesses and individuals who would like to feel the warmth of Christmas giving by helping donate to the hampers.
Michael said for him and his Derventio household, having a Christmas hamper with little treats would make an enormous difference to their festive season.
“A Christmas cake and a box of biscuits would make me feel as though I’d had Christmas,” he said. “Christmas can be very lonely. There’s nothing worse than being on your own at Christmas time. It’s awful. I’ve always been used to being somewhere. There’s nothing better on Christmas day than seeing young people opening their presents.
“If people give you something you’re not expecting, do you know how overwhelming that makes people feel? It would make me cry.”
Penny Wiltshire from Derventio Housing Trust said: “With our Christmas Hamper campaign we would like to give residents some luxuries to help them feel they are part of the festive season too. When money is tight and you need to buy essentials, even treats like a packet of biscuits or a little box of chocolates are simply unavailable.
“We hope businesses and individuals will help give people a little bit of Christmas cheer this year by donating to our campaign. Many people can’t imagine spending Christmas on their own but that’s unfortunately the reality for some residents. Many people really don’t have much, so we know how much of a difference these hampers will make.”
To donate to the Derventio Housing Trust Christmas Hamper appeal, see https://www.colleaguebox.co.uk/derventiofestivetreat
* Not his real name