Thanking our local community for their support over Christmas

With the festive holidays a distant memory and the new year well underway, Home-Start Royston, Buntingford & South Cambridgeshire (HSRBSC) would like to express sincere thanks to our staff, volunteers, and especially to the local community and businesses for their incredible support over Christmas. Your generous support ensures HSRBSC can continue providing vital services to the families and children we work with.

Our work over Christmas

At HSRBSC, we understand the importance of family support in the run-up to the festive season, especially during a difficult year like 2022. Our dedicated volunteers and staff worked hard to continue providing vital services delivering donations of toys and other gifts to families in need throughout Royston, Buntingford and South Cambridgeshire.

Our staff and volunteers also organised a range of family activities, from story times to outdoor games, providing opportunities for families to have fun together. Volunteers also offered much-needed practical support, such as setting up Christmas trees and helping with decorations, cooking and providing rides to activities.

Thanking our volunteers with a festive get-together

At the start of December 2022, we had the pleasure of hosting a Christmas get-together for our wonderful volunteers from across the local communities of Royston, Buntingford and South Cambridgeshire. Our volunteers give their time and energy so generously to provide family support in our area, and this event was a great way to show our appreciation for all that they do.

This event doubled as a reluctant farewell to our long-standing chair of trustees, Maureen Brierley. We presented Maureen with some flowers and a cake, and together with our other volunteers we all enjoyed homemade treats, hot mince pies and festive cheer. It was a brilliant event that we all thoroughly enjoyed, and an important opportunity to thank our volunteers for their dedication and support.

Keeley’s amazing fundraising initiatives

We would like to say a HUGE thank you to our amazing supporter, Keeley who, with the wonderful support of her mum Lindy, has been busy raising funds for HSRBSC. During 2022 Keeley held a singing session each month to raise funds for a different charity and we were lucky enough to be picked for February. Keeley sang love songs to support our ‘Love Your Home-Start’ campaign, raising an impressive £220!! Keeley’s monthly singing fundraisers raised a total of £1,612 which has helped 14 different charities, including 4 food banks and the Melbourn Hub Gifting Tree.

In December 2022 Keeley presented HSRBSC with 37 selection boxes and 18 books for us to share with families. The books helped ensure that Father Christmas had plenty of goodies to share when he visited HSRBSC at our Christmas party and the children were delighted with their gifts.

Books for the under 5’s

Our Family Support Groups were lucky enough to receive a generous donation, from a very kind volunteer from Talking Together in Cambridgeshire (an early years initiative funded by CCC), of dozens of brand new books suitable for children aged 5 and under. These books were left over from a Storytelling Magic event held for families in Melbourn and have been used as Santa gifts for toddlers and children at our family Christmas party alongside the baby books supplied by Keeley. We will continue to use these books to update the stock of children’s books at our Family Support Groups, providing great literacy opportunities for families.

Beautiful quilts from Project Linus

We were once again thrilled to receive 15 beautiful quilts from Project Linus South Cambridgeshire which we delivered to 10 families in time for Christmas. The quilts were lovingly made by the volunteers at Project Linus, who gave up their time and expertise to create these high-quality, thick quilts – and it really showed! The children who received these gorgeous quilts were delighted and ready to snuggle up and feel cosy beneath them. .  Thank you to Sheila and her wonderful team of quilters for their hard work.

Thank you to the generous staff at Johnson Matthey

At HSRBSC, we are dedicated to providing family support throughout the year. But at Christmas, when people often feel the pressure of bills and finances, we are especially mindful of the families in our community who need extra help. That’s why we were thrilled when the employees of Johnson Matthey contacted us and said they would like to organise presents again in 2022 for each child we are supporting.

It is great to have such a partnership with the caring people who work at Johnson Matthey. We gave the ages of all the children and as always the employees of Johnson Matthey quickly responded showing their generosity and care for others by buying amazing gifts. Christmas can be a stressful time but this didn’t stop the presents from flooding in! Our office became a Santa’s grotto as presents were delivered. We also were blown away every time we went to the reception at Johnson Matthey to collect more gifts from the beautifully decorated Christmas tree. One morning we also had an extra surprise with a mysterious donation of soft cuddly teddies left around the tree, just waiting for their new loving homes.

At Christmas both staff and volunteers feel privileged as we get to deliver these presents and see how much this generosity means for children and their parents – we have such an amazing community of people thinking of others and we couldn’t be more grateful. Thank You Johnson Matthey for your incredible contribution.

Christmas giving from our local community

Once again, our local community came out in force over the Christmas period and we were delighted to receive gifts of food, Christmas goodies, donations in lieu of Christmas cards and presents, donations from the proceeds of carol singing, raffles, and all the many other initiatives that the community took part. Without a doubt, this support helped us to reach local families in need, making their Christmas even more special.

We would like to thank the Layston Masonic Lodge, Melbourn Playgroup and after-school club, Melbourn and Meldreth Churches together, First National Oven Clean, The British Queen Meldreth, Mia Caro, Stuart and Louise’s Christmas Trees, Langford Women’s Institute, Reed Church, Bar 11, Birches Coffee Shop, Jake and all the other groups, organisations and individuals that kindly donated.

Getting out and about over the Christmas period

The Christmas period is always busy for HSRBSC and this year was no exception. We had fun joining in various Christmas Fayres and markets including The Bruntwood SciTech Christmas fayre, Meldreth Christmas Fayre, The Meldreth Christmas Tree Festival and the Haslingfield Christmas market. We were also delighted to join together with the Royston Round Table and Santa as he made his way around the local community saying hello to children and families on two evenings before Christmas. Many thanks to everyone who supported us at these events by coming along or helping us to run them.

Bringing our families together with a Christmas party

December also saw us enjoy a Family Christmas party at Coombes Community Centre. Families arrived at a very festive-looking hall, with a lovely buffet to enjoy and lots of toys and Christmas crafts for the children to explore. The ‘Big Man’ himself then arrived and each family had time to visit him in his grotto and collect a present. With entertainment provided by the fantastic Linda Bance and Liz Meissner with their wonderful musical instruments and festive songs, lots of fun was had. Our thanks to the Layston Masonic Lodge for helping to fund the event, and as always all the amazing volunteers who donated their time and energies to provide valuable family support. We look forward to similar events in 2023 for another great Christmas celebration!

Secret Santa joins the staff team for lunch

For the first time in three years, the staff team at HSRBSC were able to get together indoors to have a Christmas lunch and share some downtime after all their hard work over the holiday period. We were delighted to be given the use of the Churchill room at the Moat House restaurant in Melbourn Science Park, where we enjoyed a tasty lunch and shared crackers around the table. To make it extra special, we were visited by ‘Secret Santa’ and everyone was thrilled with their presents!

How you can help HSRBSC in 2023

This year (2023), our charity is celebrating its 40th anniversary. HSRBSC has been helping families in Royston, Buntingford and surrounding villages since 1983 – an amazing 40 years of offering friendly, confidential and compassionate help to local families who are facing tough times.

To mark our 40th anniversary, we have set up a donation page with the aim to raise £40,000 for this important milestone.

This year we anticipate seeing ongoing increases in referrals as challenges that families face become more complex, especially linked with the cost-of-living crisis. £40,000 would provide home visiting support to 27 families in need in our local community. Every donation will go towards providing stability, education and warmth to vulnerable families, so any amount would be hugely appreciated.

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