Community group help Peterborough homeless with festive care packages

After months of collectors a community group has donated hundreds of Christmas shoeboxes to the homeless. What was once only a dream, has spiralled into hundreds of gift packages being donated by residents and businesses across Peterborough.

Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 6:00 am
Christmas shoebox handouts to homeless at Brook Street car park. Peter Burrows with Peterborough United players who donated boxes EMN-190912-101253009

Diane Malyon, was inspired by seeing a similar project across the world on social media, and knew she had to do something for those closer to home. She and her team from Peterborough Homeless Helpers handed out gift packages to the rough sleepers. Diane works as a childminder and wanted to show the children she minds acts of compassion and empathy start at home.

Diane said: “It was such a nice feeling that maybe just a few minutes someone’s thoughtful shoebox can bring joy to a complete stranger. It’s very humbling. A lot of them recognised me from the previous years so it’s nice to chat away to them without the awkwardness. It was such a happy handout, even the rain couldn’t dampen our mood.”

Donations included toiletries, like shampoo, conditioners and lip balms. Other essentials such as hat gloves and scarfs were among the boxes. Not forgetting the four legged friends, special shoe boxes were also created for dogs that accompany the homeless. The items which many of us may take for granted, were gratefully received. A special touch, has been the inclusion of Christmas cards and notes. Of which one read: “Merry Christmas. We hope you have a lovely Christmas and a safe one. Don’t give up. People still care about you.”

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Christmas shoebox handouts to homeless at Brook Street car park. Organisers Diane Malyon, Emma Fleming, Diane Ellison and Nicki Mussett. EMN-190912-101311009

As there have been so many donations, it has meant nobody went without at the collection. Diane remarked how one woman, had gone without gloves and received a pair in her box, but as she was so cold they gave her another box so she could have two pairs of gloves.

In 2016, the project began with 50 shoeboxes being raised, and within three years the numbers have rocketed as the team collected over 700 boxes in this year’s appeal. The overwhelming support for the group has meant local schools, pubs, youth groups and estate agents have all rallied together across the city. The group plan on restarting the appeal next year from October 2020 and hope to beat this year’s numbers.

Christmas shoebox handouts to homeless at Brook Street car park. Volunteers from the Guru Nanak's free kitchen giving out food. EMN-190912-101218009