For the first time ever, the Worsley Rotary Club will be delivering Christmas hampers to young care leavers in Salford. This is in collaboration with The Gold from the Stone Foundation.

The foundation, which was founded by Lemn Sissay, usually supports Christmas parties for people leaving the care system, but with coronavirus making that impossible this year, the Worsley Rotary Club are instead providing hampers.

Audrey Othick from the Rotary Club said: “The foundation provides Christmas dinners for care leavers, so that’s anybody who is leaving care. Normally on Christmas Day, all the care leavers can have a bit of a party, either several small ones or one big one.

“We were able to get a benefactor to donate some money this year, so we were actually able to put this party on for the first time, but now we’ve got covid, so there’s no Christmas party”.

Instead of allowing the coronavirus pandemic to ruin their plans for Christmas, the Rotary Club decided to do something different. Audrey explained: “the idea is that the care leavers get a Christmas hamper with food inside because, as a care leaver you have just enough money to manage. There’s no money for anything extra, not a bar of chocolate, not a Christmas decoration, nothing.

“The whole idea is to give these kids a bit of Christmas cheer really, and something that they don’t have to worry about.

“There’s a group of around fifteen care leavers who are particularly vulnerable. They will be completely on their own on Christmas day with no visitors, no cards, and no presents”.

Every year the Worsley Rotary club also does a Christmas Santa collection.

Audrey continued: “I’ve always had an interest in what happens with looked after children. At a previous time when I was working, I was able to get all of the looked after children in Salford under the age of five signed up to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

“It’s actually paid for by the government now, so it’s free and it’s for all looked after children. We gift a book every month to children so that by the time they’re five they have their own little library of 60 books. We are the only one of the ten local authorities within Greater Manchester that have signed up for this”.

Alongside the food hamper, the Rotary Club is hoping to provide a gift, toiletries, and a small Christmas tree to care leavers. They have received contributions from a variety of organizations, which have donated items for the hampers.

‘Smiths Knits’ is a knitting group who usually meet up at Smiths Restaurant in Eccles to knit together. They have committed to sowing blankets for the care leavers.

Chris Johnson from the group said: “We decided to get involved because it’s the right thing to do. We’re making blankets so that every care leaver that will be going totally independent this Christmas will have a blanket.”

The group has managed to carry on with their knitting at home, with Chris hosting a yarn exchange once per month. Members can show off their creations in safe and socially distanced conditions, and they can also take more yarn home, to work on their next projects.

Chris said: “Over Christmas, it’s a little bit chaotic, we constantly supply local hospitals with baby hats. They can be placed on newborns straight away so that they don’t get cold.

“Before the hats, there was something in the region of four or five newborn babies per month which have had to be warmed up in incubators, but since they’ve started using the hats there’s not been one”

You can join the Smiths Knits sowing group for £2.50 per week with a hot drink and shortbread included. For more information email Fiona Banks at;

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