Binmen in Salford are taking on a new role this Christmas – collecting presents from residents to donate to Manchester charities.

They have asked locals to leave their gifts alongside their bins, ready for collection between December 3rd and December 7th.

The presents, which will be given to children aged up to 16, should be unwrapped and placed in a waterproof bag marked ‘Salford’s Santa Appeal’.

A convoy of volunteers will follow the binmen as they work, helping to collect the parcels donated.

The gifts can also be handed over personally to the crews if desired, with toys, games, sports items, selection boxes or clothing and accessories amongst the suggested ideas for potential items.

Once checked, the presents will then be passed on to the various charities, including Women’s Aid, Wood Street Mission, Little Hulton Big Local and Revive.

Refuse collector and Unison convenor Sam Barry, who came up with the idea, said: “Where I live, I see the poverty and the amount of people that try and hide that. I think somebody needed to do something to help.

“A lot of people in Salford are passionate about Salford – me being one of them. It’s a great city, and you’ll see from previous incidents that the city does pull together.

“I’m just hoping that they can pull together again for this one and make a big difference.”

Mr Barry’s initiative has been supported by union representatives from Unite and GMB, while Salford council managers have also aired their support.

As a result, the unions have sponsored both the red jackets and Santa hats provided for the crews to wear during their Christmas gift collection week.

He said: “I’m lucky enough to be a convenor for UNISON and I’m in a position where I’ve got a lot of people I can ask for help.

“There’s 110,000 properties in Salford, and if ten percent were to give a gift, that would be a thousand presents. It could be massive for these families.

“I want the kids to realise it’s Christmas, to realise they’ll have a present to open and I want them and their parents to realise that there is help out there and they don’t have to ask.”

If this year’s initiative is a success, Mr Barry hopes that neighbouring areas will take inspiration from the idea.

“I’ve been speaking to coordinators at other unions and it would be great to incorporate other places in Greater Manchester to do a similar thing.

“If somebody was to turn up on my doorstep out of the blue and hand my children a present at Christmas, I’d be absolutely made up… especially if they were dressed as Santa!”

Prsents can also be dropped at one of two locations – the Turnpike Depot at Salford Civic Centre or Salford City UNISON’s branch office, M27 9LQ.

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