A retail manager from Sunderland hopes to put a smile on the faces of those in need at Christmas through the gift of chocolate.
Earlier this year it was revealed that South Tyneside is considered the ‘homeless capital’ with the highest number of homeless people in the North East
Darren Robson, 48, has set himself a challenge and hopes to create 100 gift boxes filled with chocolate and sweet treats for those who are homeless and in need this Christmas.
Darren said: “If I can get 100 smiles – job done. That’s the outcome. Just a smile.”
With the help of donations from the Tyne and wear community, Darren is narrowing closer to his target of 100 gift boxes with his current total at 78 boxes.
All gift boxes will be taken to St Mary’s Parish Hall, Sunderland, where a free Christmas day lunch will take place between 12 noon and 2pm for those who are homeless and in need.
Darren said: “I simply saw a post on Facebook about the event being held on Christmas day. I’d been wanting to put something back into the community & perhaps volunteer in some way so I contacted the person who posted the event and offered my help”
‘I was told we would be catering for up to 100 people. My challenge is a self-challenge. No one has asked me to do anything above being available.’
Matthew, 23, is a Sunderland University student who found himself homeless during the Christmas period after he was kicked out of his family home at the young age of 16.
According to Matthew, he struggled to access help from professional organisations due to his age, which fell in the 16-18 category, meaning he was left with little support.
Matthew was later able to find support within his community through local charities, and says: “They provided me a room in a hostel and helped me get onto a college course. It was a real turning point in my life”
Matthew said: “It was one of the hardest experiences of my life. I shut down and became an emotionless vessel. It was much easier to live in a fantasy world than face up to the reality that life had presented.
“The best advice I can give to anyone who finds themselves homeless at Christmas is to not loose hope, change will come eventually”
If anyone would like to help Darren reach his goal, please contact him through his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/darren.g.robson