Council staff at Tower Hamlets play Santa with their hearts in the right place to those in poverty
PUBLISHED: 10:00 24 December 2019
A thousand donations of food and gifts to help people living in poverty in the East End have been handed over at the town hall by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets.
The gifts are now being distributed by volunteers to those in need, in time for Christmas.
They will help the homeless and those with complex needs, including victims of abuse or modern slavery.
All donations came from the authority's own staff in a three-week appeal at all council offices and departments.
"Christmas can be difficult for those in our community who are vulnerable," mayor John Biggs said.
"Food poverty and the rise of people using food banks is sadly a very real issue. But we hope these gifts will help more people to have a happy Christmas."
The Christmas goodies are being distributed by Bow food bank, Look Ahead and Hestia refuges, Beyond the Street's Programme and First Love Foundation.
Two special events are being staged by First Love where children and adults get their presents and hampers and a three-course Christmas dinner.
The council's social work teams have also been distributing toys to children.
Deputy Mayor Rachel Blake, whose brief includes tackling poverty, said: "Christmas is supposed to be a time filled with joy and celebration, yet we know some families will struggle to keep food on the table over the holidays.
"We continue to make the case for a fair social security system, but want to make sure that no-one goes hungry and everyone has something to unwrap on Christmas Day ."
Council staff donated chocolates, mince pies and dried goods, while donated gifts included toiletry sets, children's toys and books for all ages.
The Local Buyers Club has given 500 toys to the appeal, while Heathcote & Ivory toiletries company donated gift sets and hand creams.
The appeal follows the council being listed in October at join third in London for tackling food poverty for vulnerable people.
The council has also contributed towards a "community fridge" being set up in the Bromley-by-Bow centre later in the New Year to help reduce food waste and enable people facing food poverty to have better access to nutritious food.
Donations can be made to your nearest foodbank listed by the Trussell Trust online.