Christmas will be coming early to our Islington clients this year as they receive a surprise early visit from Santa and his elves.

For the next three days, staff from the Islington Floating Support Team will be dropping off their Christmas hamper bags to more than 70 clients across the borough.

Led by Mark Chambers (also known as SHP Santa), a support worker who has been at SHP since 2006, the team has been working tirelessly over the last few weeks generating support from the community, dropping off collection boxes, picking up donations and putting the hampers together.

This year, an amazing 75 hampers have been created. Each hamper box contains a range of items and gifts including Christmas food, winter clothing, toiletries and even little presents and toys, especially for clients with children. 

A time for community working 

Mark was keen to thank the local community for their support: “It’s great getting all the generous donations from organisations across Islington, we’ve been using it as a time for community working and get our name out there”. We'd particularly like to thank:

  • All the companies based at the Ivories. In particular, Ehrmanns Wine, who donated £200 for the hampers
  • All the companies at Leroy House who clubbed together to buy a range of toys
  • Healthy Back Bag, who donated a selection of their bags
  • The teams at Islington Council 222 Upper Street Offices including the Housing, Child Services, Environmental and Social Services teams
  • Everyone else who donated included Sainsbury’s Angel Branch, Morrison’s Angel Branch, Drayton Park Social Services Team, all the staff at the Holland Walk Area Housing Office and SHP staff

With more than 700 clients, the whole team gets involved in the process by selecting the clients who would benefit most from the hampers, with each one tailored-made for them.

Mark said: “Many of the clients who receive a hamper are those who are most vulnerable or isolated. They often tell me they’ve never received a Christmas present, so you really know what a difference you’re making”

Hand-deliver all the hampers

The Islington team will hand-deliver all the hampers directly to their clients. Mark added: "One of my best memories was giving a hamper to a lady who had just moved into more secure accommodation for her own safety after many years of suffering domestic violence. She had nothing where she was living.

“When we turned up, her three children were so excited. Shouting through the window to their mum, pinching each other because couldn’t believe Santa was there for them… in their house, putting presents under their tree. We were really able to bring them the festive spirit.”

Mark also said it was great getting the team in the festive spirit: “We all have demanding jobs here, but this is a real chance to go over and above and show that the people we work with aren’t just clients to us”

Find out more about out Christmas appeal and donate to our justgiving page.