While many residents are getting into the festive spirit, some Huddersfield families in crisis will this year struggle to celebrate at all.

But behind the scenes, the town’s own Santa’s helpers are working around the clock at the Welcome Centre, to help bring Christmas cheer to those most in need.

And now the Lord Street-based team, which provides emergency food and other parcels, is looking for more donations of essential items, little luxuries and even winter fuel vouchers to help bring a smile to the faces of even more service users of all ages this Christmas Day.

Providing the service five days a week, the 45 volunteers and staff are busy keeping up with demand for special festive packages along with their normal parcels of support, which they give out to around 200 in need individuals and families each week.

The manager of the centre, Karen Selley, said: “It’s a year round mission but we do see more people, especially families, at this time of year, who come to us in financial crisis and are desperate to do anything to give their children Christmas.

“Sometimes they come to us after they have exhausted every other avenue for finding money, which sadly can even include turning to pay day lenders.

“We try help by giving them items that can normalise their Christmas and ensure they have enough food and essentials to get through the period.

“We are now looking for festive selection boxes, dry and tinned foods, toiletries, fuel vouchers and presents, along with normal everyday long-lasting foods.”

And the difference just a few items can make to every client at the centre is clear.

Karen explained: “Christmas time can be very difficult for people who come to us because of the excitement that is going on around them but they are amazed by what we can give them because the community is so generous with its donations.

Volunteers Mary Doody and Philip Mitchell getting ready for Christmas at the Welcome Centre on Lord Street in Huddersfield.
 

“To see the relief on their faces that they will be able to get through Christmas is evident-it can mean that they don’t have to make choices between having food and presents and paying bills.”

Sadly Karen anticipates the demand for help will soar after February next year, when the next stage of the government’s Welfare Reform Act comes into force.

Karen said: “This could tip people who are just managing to get by now into crisis, which means that we will need even more items to give away and monetary donations so that we can buy appropriate essentials at the most affordable price.

“We’re incredibly thankful to everyone who has donated to us so far, such as supermarkets like Asda and Sainsburys, Greggs and dozens of other businesses.”

The Centre staff will be hosting a charity bag pack at Marks and Spencers in Waterloo on December 20, while Honley Male Voice Choir will host an event at Armitage Bridge Church on December 19.

Food donations can be made at the centre from 10am to 4pm Monday to Fridays and the centre’s new website, which will include a list of needed items, will be launched in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, monetary donations can be made by buying a community card from the centre or sigining up to wesbite www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/welcomecentre , which allows people to donate while buying their shopping.

Anyone in crisis and needing help should contact their support worker or call Kirklees Local Welfare Provision team on 01484414782