Latest News

Christmas comes to Southend hostels

Published: Monday, 21st December 2020

Children living in Southend’s temporary accommodation will all see a decorated tree and receive a gift this Christmas, thanks to kind donations from the local community.

xmas hostel donations

The teams at Let’s Get Noticed, a Social Media Marketing Agency with a base in Southend, and Ignite Training Academy approached us at South Essex Homes as they were keen to give something back to the local community and ensure that no child goes without over the festive season.

With help and generous discounts from Toys ‘N’ Tuck in Queens Road, the team set about choosing and buying gifts for almost 100 children of all ages who will be living in a hostel over Christmas and then their team went to work with the wrapping!

Additionally Nicky Walmisham, who is now the landlady of the Park Tavern in London Road, Southend, but lived in hostel accommodation after fleeing domestic violence 20 years ago, has donated Christmas trees to bring festive joy to the communal lounges of hostels in the town, as well as also donating gifts for residents of all ages.

This morning (Monday 21 December) the presents from Let’s Get Noticed & Ignite Training Academy were delivered to Chaucer House for onward distribution by South Essex Homes’ staff to all of the town’s hostels - and 7-year-old Jennifer (pictured) was able to receive her gift in person.

Stuart Long, Support Services Manager at South Essex Homes, said: “On behalf of all the children who will benefit, we’d like to say a huge thank you to Alek and Alice at Let’s Get Noticed and Ignite Training Academy and to Nicky at The Park Tavern for their generous donations of gifts and Christmas trees.  Many of these families are living through extremely difficult situations so to receive such kindness from strangers will help to lift their spirits, I am sure.”

Alice Baker, Managing Director of Let’s Get Noticed, said: "This year has been extraordinarily tough for people, and for some where this time of year is already difficult, the pandemic has made it worse.  Even though we have had a tough year, we fully appreciate that we are probably in a better position than many, so we wanted to get a couple of small local businesses together, and help those that may not be in a position to have the Christmas they would like.

“A member of our staff, like Nicky from The Park Tavern, had also been living in a hostel a few years back fleeing domestic violence, and has shouted from the rooftops that without South Essex Homes and their support, she would not be the woman she is today.  This is why there was no other option - we had to contact SEH and offer to donate these presents to all the kids in a hostel setting - because we know, from our staff, how hard this time of year is and actually we owe them a debt of gratitude for supporting one of our team!

“Toys ‘N’ Tuck have been amazing and we couldn't have done it without them! They didn’t hesitate and jumped at the chance to support us in our cause - for an independent toy store to do this even when they have been closed for the majority of the year, is an incredible feat!

“Alek and I are so honoured and humbled to be part of this, and we truly hope that it brings a smile to the kid’s faces, even if it is for a short time!"

Nicky, landlady of The Park Tavern added: “It’s extremely hard living in a hostel, confined to one room with everyone living on top of each other.  Christmas is the hardest time of all – most people have the support of a big family and friends and assume everyone else has the same but they haven’t, life isn’t always that straight forward.

“I am a real Christmas person – and unless we look after each other, they’ll be no one to look after us if we ever need it will there? Sometimes in life, you just need a leg up.  If a small gift will help put a smile on the face of people living in hostels and helps make them feel valued then that’s a wonderful thing.”