Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Help the Fire Service spread festive cheer with donations for hampers and toys

Help the Fire Service spread the festive cheer: We need your donations for Christmas hampers for poorest families across North Essex!

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is appealing for donations to create more than 120 hampers to deliver to some of the poorest families in North Essex ahead of Christmas.

Led by Les Nicoll, Community Builder at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and his charity North Essex Support Team (N.E.S.T), the Service aims to fundraise and collect toy donations to surprise 120 families, who might not be able to afford food for Christmas Day and presents for their children. The Service will deliver hampers containing food for breakfast, Christmas dinner, teatime and treats. As well as food, the hampers contain small gifts for children, toiletries and pots and pans to cook with.

In addition to the food hampers, Les is looking to buy gas and electric vouchers so the families can cook their food and keep the house warm as well as a phone top up to enable families to keep in touch with loved ones.

The families in need have been referred to N.E.S.T by partner agencies including social care, Essex Police, school welfare officers, churches and charities.

Members of staff from ECFRS including Jo Turton, Chief Fire Officer / Chief Executive will deliver the hampers to families and give fire safety advice on how to stay safe during the festive period and will fit smoke alarms to homes without working smoke alarms.

Last year, the Fire Service helped to deliver 80 hampers (pictured above) to those most in need and this year hopes to deliver more than 120 hampers as well as toys donated by communities in Essex.

Les Nicoll said: “I’m grateful for the support of my colleagues in the Fire Service, I know they enjoyed their day delivering hampers last year and like me found it very emotional. They made a massive difference to all of those families.

“We have been working hard to fund the same event this Christmas and I’m pleased to say we are on track to deliver more than 100 hampers but we’re still looking for donations and toys to help as many people as we can.

“Our hearts were broken when we discovered several families without a working cooker in their home. In 2020, not the odd one, but several families without a working cooker in their home to create wholesome meals for their children. We at N.E.S.T, have sent out our entire stock of donated cookers and will be using our precious funds to buy at least five more simple electric cookers to meet this need.

“It has been an awful year for us all but living in poverty during this time or living in a flat with no garden, with no good food on the table, isolated from friends and family support, has been harrowing.

“One thing that is keeping me awake at night is as you know if a family cannot afford food for Christmas, they certainly cannot afford toys.

“I am asking everybody to consider buying a couple of extra toys this year and donating them to the families we support.”

If you would like to donate toys for children of all ages, you can take them to Clacton Fire Station and Colchester Fire Station where there are storage bins labelled for toy donations.

To donate to Les’ cause this Christmas, click here.

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