How a volunteer group is supporting families in desperate need this Christmas

Thorpe Helping Hands volunteer group distributing festive hampers to those in need

Thorpe Helping Hands volunteer group distributing festive hampers to those in need - Credit: Contributed

Vulnerable people living in the city have received a much-needed festive boost thanks to the efforts of a grassroots volunteer group. 

Thorpe Helping Hands was originally set up in April 2020 in response to the Covid crisis and has continued to support those in need.

The group has been delivering food parcels, offering "check-and-chat" calls to those who are lonely or isolating, as well as running errands. 

In the run-up to Christmas, the group put out a plea which resulted in generous donations of festive food and seasonal treats.

Grassroots volunteer group Thorpe Helping Hands has delivered 35 festive hampers to families in need across the Thorpe St...

Thorpe Helping Hands delivered 35 Christmas hampers last year - Credit: Thorpe Helping Hands

Committee treasurer Inga Kenny commented: “With Christmas approaching, we were keen that people who needed a little extra help were supported and felt they were not being forgotten." 

One particular city family who has benefitted from the scheme, and who cannot be identified, have received a selection of fresh food, canned and packet food, plus special treats for Christmas such as chocolates and biscuits thanks to the group.

The mum's mental health has deteriorated during the Covid period and her children, aged eight, six and four, are now identified as young carers. 

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The NR1 family's benefits never stretch far enough.

Samantha Mayling, of Thorpe Helping Hands, said: "They get a food box each week from a local church which means there are now tins in the cupboards. 

"Life before tins looked very different – children rarely smiled, attendance at school was low and they would be seen taking items from their own lunch trays home. 

"One of the children talked about having bubbles in their bath, which they didn’t before as mum had no money, and they were too scared to go out in case they got Covid." 

Last month, the group held its first social event, with a lunchtime get-together at Hillcrest Chapel in Weston Wood Road.

Around 25 volunteers and locals who have been supported came together for a light lunch.

Mark Barrett, co-founder and chair of Thorpe Helping Hands, updated everyone about the activities of the group during Covid and outlined plans for future social gatherings, and possible initiatives such as food co-operatives and community gardens.

Those interested in volunteering for Thorpe Helping Hands, or need support from the group, can contact thorpehelpinghands@gmail.com or 01622 370527.