Partnerships give a dignified Christmas to families under strain

15 December 2021
Christmas gift bags

At this time of year, tensions and financial stresses can often flare up, worsening existing pains and conflicts within families. Cyrenians believes that everyone deserves the right to celebrate holidays with joy and dignity.  

With generous donations from our partners across the city, Cyrenians’ Mediation and Support services have been able to offer families working with them the option of festive gifts to help make Christmas a time of joy, instead of one of stress or shame. 

Through our partners at Thrive, we are able to offer families the option of a Christmas voucher, allowing them to shop for a Christmas dinner at their choice of supermarkets. Unlike food parcels, this voucher gives families the choice of where to shop and what they’d like to eat.  

Mediation and Support manager Kerry Watson also says that the Christmas shop – choosing food, buying treats, building excitement – can be a part of the festive joy that people don’t think about. Having the freedom to pick out something exciting and special together without worrying about money, particularly at a time of year where financial stress often bites hard, lets families spend quality time together, and that can make all the difference. Kerry said, 

“It’s about having the opportunity to have a good time together. Quality time can give space for everything to ease off and relationships to improve.” 

Mediation and Support serves a wide range of families, from all social backgrounds and financial situations. It works with any families affected by relationship tensions and conflicts. Vouchers may not be useful to everyone, but they are available for any service users who could benefit. 

But it isn’t just about the food, and several businesses have generously provided gifts that families can share on Christmas morning. Alexander McCall Smith and the Scottish Book Trust have provided the contents of free family book bags, which are going out as gifts for service users. Morrisons, too, have generously provided selection boxes to share and enjoy for those who want them. And with Paperchase donating boxes of stickers, stationary and wrapping paper, there's plenty to go under the tree! 

Connecting Scotland, whose partnership has been invaluable during the pandemic, are also here to help this holiday season. Across Cyrenians, they’ve provided the resources to allow services to offer gifts of iPads, Chromebooks and free WiFi, so for those whose loved ones can’t be with them this year, they can catch up and spend Christmas together online! 

As Lesley Frame-Whitelaw wrote recently, a gift that’s given with thought and care can mean the world. Across the organisation, we're working to make sure that even where services will be closed over Christmas, our clients know they are not alone and that they matter as individuals. Whether that’s with Christmas cards, well-wishes, or with wee gifts that are just for them, our staff, volunteers and supporters are working to make this Christmas a good one for everyone we work with, regardless of their circumstances.