ONCE again the Whiterock Children’s Centre have teamed up with the Andersonstown News, Ulster Bank Westwood and Gymco at the Devenish Complex to help make Christmas a bit easier for those less fortunate.
For thirty years now, Whiterock Children’s Centre has been helping local families make ends meet and this year more than ever they need your help to ensure that children and families in West Belfast have a magical Christmas.
Every year thousands of people across the city struggle to make ends meet, particularly at Christmas time. Families feel the pressure and this leads to people borrowing money from pay-day loan sites or loan companies, getting them further into debt.
The Andersonstown News met with Deirdre Walsh, Manager of Whiterock Children’s Centre, this week to find out how we can help.
“Last year’s Christmas appeal was a great success, but this year we are aiming for bigger and better,” said Deirdre. “We already have a list of over one hundred children who need our help and it’s only going to increase as we get closer to December.”
As well as presents, clothes and pyjamas for children and teenagers the centre also purchase gas and electricity vouchers for families to get them over the festive period.
Deirdre said: “We are appealing to local businesses to come forward and donate cash so we can start buying vouchers, families depend on us. What’s the point in giving people food parcels if they haven’t got gas or electric to cook with?
“We like to give our families at least £20 of each, so any cash donations would be very welcome, it all adds up and you would be helping out so many families in need.”
The Whiterock Children’s Centre are asking people if they would consider “taking on a child”.
Deirdre said: “What this means is we are asking people or even an entire family to come together and buy for the one child. If they call in to us we will give them the age and gender, they can then go and purchase pyjamas, underwear, some toys and even an outfit for Christmas Day.
“These gifts don’t have to be elaborate or overly expensive, but every child deserves new clothes and gifts for Christmas.”
Deirdre continued: “If you’re out and about shopping and you can, why not pick up something extra for our appeal. We have been doing this for a few years now and we would ask people to donate what they can. This can be anything from food (non perishable) to toys, clothes, pyjamas and vouchers.
“Vouchers are a wonderful gift as they allow people to make their own shopping choices while keeping their dignity and pride. Vouchers from all major supermarkets such as Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco are really welcome as are vouchers from clothes shops.”
Deirdre continued: “The majority of people who come to us have been referred through the family support hub or through the family support workers in Sure Start.
“We deliver items discretely as some people may feel embarrassed, which they shouldn’t but it’s just human nature.
“It really means the world to people when they know they are getting some help, they know they aren’t on their own, we never turn anyone away.
“West Belfast is renouned for its community spirit and generosity, we know we can do this, but we need your help, let’s work together to ensure as many families as possible have a wonderful Christmas.”
If you would like to make a donation, items can be left in to the Whiterock Children’s Centre, the Ulster Bank Westwood, Gymco at the Devenish Complex and the Andersonstown News office, 2 Hannahstown Hill.
The cut off point for gifts and donations is December 14th.