A New Year Thank You

Tuesday 3rd January 2017

Thank You for Opening Doors at Christmas

Our aim through the #OpenDoors appeal, and through our Gift Angel scheme, was to make Christmas special for young people who had no option but to spend Christmas with us here at Step by Step.

We have been overwhelmed with the response we've had from individuals, schools, community groups, churches, and local businesses. Historically, our Gift Angels have enabled each young person staying at Step by Step to receive a gift at Christmas. Despite the fact that we are working with a greater number of young people than ever before, our 2016 Gift Angels provided gifts to each of the 229 young people living in our Foyer Accommodation and Supported Lodgings placements! Thank you to everyone who helped make Christmas special in this way.

Jessica Oliver, Head of Fundraising at Step by Step said, "We were overwhelmed with the community reaction to our Christmas Appeal. In total, we received £1,535 in Gift Vouchers for young people, £3,000 in general donations and a staggering £6,500 in direct response to our Open Doors Appeal. All of this was on top of car loads of wrapped gifts, toiletries and food donations. We can't thank you enough for responding so generously and helping us make Christmas special for the young people we are working with and who had nowhere else to go on Christmas Day. Thank you!"

Over and above being able to provide a warm, safe bed for the night, Step by Step were delighted to be in a position to provide parcels of food, toiletries, brand new bed linen, and a wonderful gift bag of 7-8 gifts for each young person who stayed with us over the Christmas period. We held a 'Present Wrapping Saturday' shortly before Christmas so that we could use the last week prior to the big day to distribute gifts throughout each of our five Foyer projects and to all of our Supported Lodgings placements.

Annie was with Step by Step at Christmas. When asked what her Christmas would have been like if she hadn't been with Step by Step she said,"It wouldn't have been fun."

Annie told us a little about her experience. A couple of her family members were able to visit early in the morning, bringing gifts, which she was touched by. She's been working hard to rebuild relationships with family and this was a real testament to how far she has come. She later returned to join the group, which included two people she's made friends with during her time with Step by Step, to open her bag of presents supplied by our Gift Angels.

When Annie returned to the lounge, one of her friends was "fully kitted out in all his presents. He had a t-shirt, leggings, hat, scarf, slippers ... he was literally wearing all of his gifts at once." Her other friend was struggling. She hadn't chosen to remain with Step by Step at Christmas and was finding it hard to pretend to be excited and happy. She was being perceived as ungrateful, but that wasn't what she'd intended at all. This just wasn't the Christmas she'd planned or been hoping for. It's for exactly that reason that we asked you to support us in trying to make Christmas just a little more bearable.

Annie had a more positive experience, saying, "We are lucky to even get one present. I got a whole bag full of gifts that were just perfect for me. It was as if they'd been chosen especially for me. There isn't a rule book that says people have to go and buy extra presents for people like us, and yet they do. It's so generous and I am so grateful."

Annie was pleased to report that she and both of her friends had ended up being able to enjoy their time and went on to describe the rest of Christmas Day. One of the staff team brought his partner in as a volunteer and Annie said, "While she was cooking dinner, he was down playing board games with us. It was just lovely."

So thank you, from the full staff team and each of the young people supported by Step by Step, for making Christmas a day to remember and opening the door to a brighter future.

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