YOUNGSTERS have spread Christmas cheer across Amber Valley by packing and delivering seasonal hampers to the housebound.
A group of 12 young people were involved in the project, jointly organised by housing associations Futures Homescape and Guinness Northern Counties.
Last year more than 40 housebound older or vulnerable people were nominated by staff to receive a surprise Christmas hamper. This year 77 hampers were sent to women and children in domestic violence shelters and homeless people too.
Volunteers are from youth involvement project Dreamscheme and the Voices of Youth group for young people, and all are aged between 11 and 16.
Those nominated to receive the hampers are not told in advance to ensure they have a welcome surprise. The hampers contain enough food to provide all three meals on Christmas day and include traditional items such as a Christmas pudding, some store cupboard staples and treats such as cake or chocolates.
The hampers were packed on December 21 and delivered on December 22. Each hamper featured a handwritten gift tag from a young person with a friendly message for each recipient.
John Haslam, 13, from Waingroves, is one of the youngsters who volunteered to take part. It will be his second year supporting the project. He said: “It’s brilliant being able to surprise people with a hamper and to see the look on their faces. I was meant to be seeing my own Grandma on the same day that we were doing the packing, so I asked my family to re-arrange so that I could take part. I wanted to make sure I was doing something for people who won’t have anyone else visiting them.”
On receiving a hamper, resident Mrs Margaret Reed said: “It was wonderful surprise, I really appreciate it and it will help me have a wonderful Christmas. I’d like to thank all the young people for their generous gift.”
Sarah Whattam, Futures Homescape’s community development manager, said: “This is a fantastic project and we know it means so much to those who receive a hamper. For those who can’t get out and about at Christmas seeing a friendly face is very important. The young volunteers really get something out of it too.”
Judith Badger, community investment manager at Guinness Northern Counties, said: “We’re really pleased to have this opportunity to help provide this service to our most vulnerable older residents and I think it’s great that the young people are so involved in it.”