Families come first in Wirral Christmas Campaign

An urgent lifeline is being thrown to two local young people’s charities as the hard-hit families they support begin to face a major cost of living crisis at Christmas.

With its Christmas Campaign, Wirral technical recruitment operation Russell Taylor Group aims to raise £50,000 to be shared between The Hive youth zone in Birkenhead and Wirral’s Claire House children’s hospice.

Chief executive Ben Russell is calling upon the Burton Manor-headquartered business’ network of partners, professional colleagues and friends to join the campaign so families are not forced into “thinking the unthinkable” when it comes to making important choices at this time of the year.

For young people using The Hive and its groundbreaking youth facilities, many of its 3,000 members – drawn from an area where one in three live in poverty – may go without a present, food or a warm bed this Christmas.

Meanwhile, some Claire House families looking after a seriously ill child at home and having to give up work to provide round-the-clock care are now incurring excessively high energy costs so they can keep life-saving equipment running.

Ben said, “Russell Taylor Group and its workforce have supported both The Hive and Claire House for many years with fundraising initiatives, volunteering and mentoring.

“However, on hearing how hard the cost of living crisis is hitting the families they support, we decided we had to do something and are hoping we can call on our friends and our professional networks to help too.

“Far too many families faced with financial pressures will have to think the unthinkable when it comes to making important choices surrounding their children this Christmas.

“They are already having a tough time and we’re hoping our support will make things a little easier for them so they can enjoy a well-deserved festive season with fewer worries.”

Ben is appealing to businesses, as a guide, to consider donating £1,000 to the Christmas Campaign. This could pay for 24 hours of nursing care at Claire House, making sure specialist staff are there for families who need them, or could fund a full course of counselling for a mother and father who have lost their child. 

The same amount could provide one week’s worth of hot food for all young people at The Hive during the Christmas holiday – possibly the only hot meal they may get that week.

A sum of £40 could provide an hour of nursing care at Claire House or pay for a fuel card for a family whose children use The Hive, helping those suffering from fuel poverty and unable to heat their homes this winter.

At The Hive, situated in one of the country’s most deprived areas, tough choices may mean families either being able to heat or eat. Here, £31 could provide a fresh, hot meal every night throughout December for a young person at risk of going hungry.

For £100, one member could have their entry to the youth zone paid for a year, covering their food and access to all its activities as well as youth worker support.

Catherine Sandow, head of fundraising at The Hive, said, “There’s never been a more urgent time than now to put the focus on how hard it is for families whose children come to the youth zone.

“We have never been needed more and we can offer young people somewhere warm and safe to go throughout the entire Christmas period.

“The tragedy is that the cost of living crisis is hitting our families disproportionately, adding to all the pressures this time of the year brings for them.”

Dan Halliday, fundraising manager at Claire House, added, “The past two-and-a-half years have been extraordinarily challenging for families caring for a seriously ill child. The pandemic has pushed them to their limits and now they face a new challenge as the cost of living soars.

“Forced to give up work to provide 24-hour care, many now have much higher energy bills. As well as having to keep life-saving equipment powered up all day and night, they have to have home heating kept on to regulate their child’s body temperature – even wheelchairs have to be charged overnight.

“The current cost of living crisis, combined with the anticipated wave of flu and Covid this winter, is understandably causing our families extreme stress and anxiety.

“However, thanks to the magnificent support we receive, it means we can always be there for the families who need us and our nurses can continue to provide the respite care families so desperately need.”

A Go Fund Me page has been set up for the Russell Taylor Group Christmas Campaign – go to www.bit.ly/russelltaylorchristmascampaign

Image: Peter and Ben Russell with Catherine Sandow – head of fundraising at The Hive, and Claire House partnerships manager Jess Campbell

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