Torridge project needs help

THE Torridge Christmas Project has helped a record 117 families in the district this year, including 77 gifts for children. But now it is in difficulty itself and needs new volunteers to lead it. Now in its 21st year, the project is co-ordinated by Dawn M

THE Torridge Christmas Project has helped a record 117 families in the district this year, including 77 gifts for children.

But now it is in difficulty itself and needs new volunteers to lead it.

Now in its 21st year, the project is co-ordinated by Dawn Milner of Torridge Volunteer Centre. It helps local families who are experiencing difficulties over the Christmas period, providing supermarket vouchers and gifts for the children.

Families are referred to the project by professionals.


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Just over �4,000 was raised through donations this year from Bideford Bridge Trust, the Lions' Clubs of Bideford and Holsworthy, Rotary Clubs of Bideford Bridge, Holsworthy and Torrington, Bideford St. Mary's Parish Church, Bideford Round Table, Bideford Methodist Church, Bideford Quakers, the Extension Trust and the Appledore and Bideford Weekly Key Draw.

"The amount raised was incredible, bearing in mind the current financial climate and how much more difficult it is for fund-raising groups to raise money themselves, so my sincere thanks go to each of these groups," said Dawn. "Seventy-seven gifts were bought this year, nearly double the number bought last year, which really is a sign of the times. There are a lot of families in Torridge struggling to manage. For some of the children our gift could be the only one they receive."

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But due to re-structuring of Volunteer Centres throughout Devon, based on core functions and lack of core funding, her position is to become redundant at the end of March, said Dawn.

To ensure the Christmas Project continued it would be great if there was another group or volunteer willing to take it over as it was not really the role of the Volunteer Centre to be running it. It could mean that a lot of families in need would suffer, she said.

Similarly, Dawn is involved with a Holiday Project, which raises funds for families who are experiencing difficulties and have never had a break. Through funding earmarked for this project, a week in a caravan in South Devon is given to referred families, with a little pocket money for the children. A volunteer with the time to concentrate on basic fund raising for this and perhaps another to deal with the holiday paperwork would ensure that a few holidays could be offered during the school summer holidays each year.

Anyone interested can contact Dawn on (01237) 429832 in the New Year for an informal chat about what is involved.

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