A housing provider has turned Santa to bring Christmas to struggling families.

The Huddersfield-based Perseverance House offices of not for profit Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing is already covered in cuddly toys, games and hampers, which they have been collecting to give out to their residents.

The scheme was set up nine years ago to help combat what can be a stressful time for tenants who would otherwise struggle to buy gifts for their family members.

The idea was dreamt up by KNH debt advisor, Paul Watson, with help from his colleagues in the Rent Assist Team.

Paul said: “We help hundreds of people every year who have serious financial problems and are really struggling to make ends meet.

“The idea of the toy store came to me when I was trying to figure out what more we could do to help our customers at what is such a stressful time of year for people with money worries.

“We ask colleagues for donations, and each year, we’re inundated with fantastic toys, games and gifts, which we wrap up and then give to those people who really need a bit of extra help.

“Since we began the toy store, we’ve been able to help more than 450 children and 230 families enjoy a brighter Christmas.”

The Kirklees Neighborhood Housing staff Christmas toy store. Paul Watson and Clr Kathy Scott (2nd right) with KNH staff, from left, Laura Hellawell, Lorraine Morley, Joy Battle, Lynda Elliott, Sam Fenn and Zoe Taylor (right) with the room full of toys at KNH's offices on St Andrew's Road, Aspley.
The Kirklees Neighborhood Housing staff Christmas toy store. Paul Watson and Clr Kathy Scott (2nd right) with KNH staff, from left, Laura Hellawell, Lorraine Morley, Joy Battle, Lynda Elliott, Sam Fenn and Zoe Taylor (right) with the room full of toys at KNH's offices on St Andrew's Road, Aspley.
 

Paul is one of the staff who offers free help and advice every day to any council tenant or leaseholder concerned about money an

This can include negotiating affordable repayments and boosting customers’ income by making sure they’re getting all the benefits they’re entitled to.

According to KNH, more customers than ever before have been sinking into debt due to the fragile economy.

Cllr Cathy Scott, cabinet member for housing, is supportive of the measure.

She said: “As a councillor, I see every day how hard it is for more and more families to make ends meet.

“We’re working hard to stimulate the local economy but these are very difficult times for many Kirklees residents.

KNH Chief Executive, Simon Rogers, said: “All children should have a happy Christmas, no matter what their circumstances, and the KNH toy store is a great example of how a bit of creativity and generosity can make a huge difference to local children.”

“Our staff already do all they can to make a positive difference to our customers’ lives and I’m really proud that year on year, they’re going the extra mile for those who really need some extra help.”