Cotton Court Business Centre

Author: Jane Newby

2019 Barnardo’s Gift Appeal Success

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Christmas 2019 saw Cotton Court’s 7th annual Barnardo’s gift appeal, and we decided to change things up a bit this year.

Before the appeal launched, Amy (Centre Manager) and Rochelle (Account Executive) went over to Leyland to meet with Jenny and her team at the Barnardo’s Bay6 Project. Bay6 is supported accommodation for young people aged 16 – 21. It was a real eye opener to meet the people that Barnardo’s supports and hear about the circumstances that led to them becoming residents. It was also great to find out what kind of presents they would like to receive on Christmas Day. Choosing gifts for people is always difficult, and it’s even harder when you don’t know who you are buying for. By finding out the type of gifts they would like, we were able to put together a gift suggestion list to make it a little bit easier for those who wished to donate.

It was also a great way to get a better understanding of how our appeal helps them and also the young children that Barnardo’s supports. After our visit, we were even more keen to drive the appeal forward and do our absolute best to generate as much interest as possible.

In previous years, we only had one way of donating – individuals came into Cotton Court to drop off their gift. This year we looked at other ways people could donate so that we could make it more accessible to those not local to Preston or who couldn’t make it into the office. This led to us introducing the JustGiving page, in addition to encouraging people to order a gift from Amazon and send it over to us. Both methods proved to be very popular, with people from many different parts of the country getting involved and donating.

The appeal ran for just over three weeks, and the generosity shown in this time by members of the public and local businesses was truly amazing. December ’tis the season of goodwill after all, and you guys did not disappoint! The donations poured in each day –  some days there would be a continuous stream of visitors, from the moment we opened until the moment we closed. Our posts on social media were shared far and wide and this generated increased interest in the appeal and contributed to even more people getting involved.

The appeal was due to end on Monday 16th ready for Jenny and her team to come over to collect the gifts in time for Christmas. Due to the amount we were receiving, we extended the deadline, with our last donation coming in just twenty minutes before they arrived.

To say that they were blown away is an understatement! The donations that we received were distributed between the teams and because of the kindness and generosity shown, hundreds of disadvantaged children and young people woke up to an unexpected present on Christmas Day.

It is impossible to fully express in words how grateful we are and how heartwarming it is to see a community come together to support those less fortunate. Robert Binns, Managing Direct at Cotton Court said: “We are blown away by the support that members of the local community have shown the appeal this year. We’ve collected hundreds of gifts for this fantastic cause and would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that donated, no matter how big or small the donation it will go a long way to making a difference this Christmas to the child or young person that receives it.” 

As the years go by, the number of people who rely on this appeal grows, and consequently – so does the need for more gifts. With this in mind, we sincerely hope that we will again have the support from local businesses and members of the public far and wide, so that we can make it a memorable Christmas for many more this year.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2020!

Barnardo’s Leyland Centre Visit

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Since 1870, Barnardo’s have been helping disadvantaged children and young people. Today they support hundreds of thousands of individuals across the UK and beyond, and approximately 520 children and young people in Lancashire. Last year, Cotton Court’s Christmas toy appeal was able to benefit over 400 of these people. 

In the lead up to this year’s appeal, I (Rochelle) was keen to meet with Jenny, manager at the Barnardo’s centre in Leyland, to find out even more about the charity. The centre is home to young people aged 16 to 21, and after hearing about the organisation and the individuals that Jenny and her team support, I was eager to see it for myself.

You may have some preconceived ideas of what a centre for 16 to 21 year olds from troubled backgrounds will be like. But even on first impressions, these unfounded assumptions will vanish. Despite the start to life that these young people have had, the emotional struggles and trust issues that they have faced and the unconventional living situations that they have endured, they are given the opportunity to feel safe at Barnardo’s – and this is an opportunity they grasp with both hands. The centre has a homey feel with a comfortable front room and a lovely garden decorated with quotes from past and present residents about their time at the centre and how it has impacted their lives. 

The residents have rules that they must abide by and are responsible for paying their own rent and food shopping etc. Barnardo’s gives them the structure that they desperately want and need. Some of the young people come from care homes that they have lived in since the age of ten, some have come from families where both parents have struggled with addiction, and others have come from families where they have witnessed severe domestic violence. Many arrive at the centre with only a carrier bag of belongings. Regardless of their situation, each and every new resident is welcomed with open arms, and the team source items they are in need of, from clothes to materials and supplies for college.

Amy and Rochelle visiting Barnardo's centre in Leyland

The centre not only offers them a safe and secure living environment, it also offers them the emotional and educational support that they need to be able to live independently as an adult. Jenny described what she and her team do as nurturing their residents until their wings are strong enough for them to fly on their own, and that is exactly what they do. For example, three people from this centre started university this year despite initially believing that it was an achievement that someone like them wouldn’t be able to reach.

Due to certain circumstances, a lot of these young people have no one at Christmas – no family to open presents or enjoy Christmas Dinner with. Thankfully, the centre is staffed 24/7, and this includes the whole Christmas period. The team at the home make Christmas Dinner and spend the day playing games and watching films with the residents. However, the one thing that they aren’t able to do is buy presents for them (as much as they would love to be able to). This is why this appeal means so much.

The donations raised truly make a difference to these people, some of whom haven’t had a Christmas present for years. To be able to wake up on Christmas Day and receive an unexpected and heartfelt gift is a small gesture that means a great deal. No child or young person should feel alone, unloved, uncared for or underprivileged at any time, but especially at Christmas. One gift or a small donation goes a long way, and hopefully we can make this the biggest and best toy appeal to date. 

As well as benefiting residents at the Leyland centre, the appeal also benefits families across Lancashire that Barnardo’s work closely with. Whether it’s a young carer aged from just five years old whose family struggles every year to afford presents, or a parent who is battling addiction, the appeal will make a positive difference to their Christmas. Here are some comments we received about last year’s appeal:

Thank you so much for all the presents for Ad and his siblings, they really are amazing – I can’t believe they are from such nice people who don’t know my family. It proves there really are caring people out there, the kids have never had Christmas crackers before!”

“I really wasn’t expecting any presents, Christmas is really hard but you have made it that bit better, thank you so much!”

I cannot stress enough how much the appeal means – not only to the families, young people and children it benefits, but also to the staff who genuinely care for them. Giving is not just about making a donation, it’s about making a difference. The appeal is a simple concept that makes a huge difference to so many children and young people across Lancashire. If there is any way – big or small – that you are able to get involved, we would greatly appreciate it. Find out how to get involved HERE