Henry to turn his Christmas gift for the homeless into annual appeal

A 10-YEAR-OLD boy who donated his Christmas presents to help the homeless wants to make his gesture an annual appeal.

Henry Carter recently delivered three crates packed with necessities such as bedding, food and toiletries to the Woking-based York Road Project.

GENEROUS – Henry Carter presents his Christmas gifts for the homeless to Natasha, left, and Lucy from York Road Project

He launched his collection in the belief that everyone should receive a gift at Christmas, and his mum, Elle, set up a drop-off point for donations at the Carter & Shields hair salon, in which she is a partner, in Goldsworth Road.

“Henry’s appeal went better than expected,” Elle said. “The generosity of everyone in Woking and the surrounding areas was incredible, as well as our clients at Carter & Shields.

“The support for Henry was truly heartwarming, and myself and Henry can’t thank the News & Mail enough for the publicity that they gave us.

 “Henry is so happy and proud with how much he collected. Now he is really keen to keep the appeal going each year.”

The gifts were presented to York Road Project at Elle’s salon, much to the delight of Cherisse Dealtry, the project’s chief executive.

The pile of Christmas gifts Henry donated

 “We would like to thank Henry for his kind donations,” Cherisse said. “Henry dropped off some lovely presents that were taken to the shelter on Christmas Eve and distributed to clients staying there.

“We are grateful that so many in the local community want to help our charity and those we support.

“Christmas was busy, as it always is, and, alongside Henry’s efforts, we were inundated with donations from the public, which included Woking railway station’s shoebox appeal.

“For 18 months we worked out of the HG Wells Centre, and we returned to the York Road shelter at the end of September last year.

“We went from being able to accommodate 30-plus clients to now only being able to offer 10 people direct access accommodation, which has been at capacity since our return.

“Our relationship with the housing team at Woking Borough Council has meant that many who have been with us for years are now in their ‘forever homes’, and we continue to offer support while they settle in, as do the council.

“From March 2020 to September 2021 we offered 628 beds, worked with over 300 individual clients, and 50% of those we supported are now in longer-term accommodation.

“That’s a fantastic achievement for us as a charity, but there was a tremendous amount of joint working with the council to achieve it.

“However the numbers of those needing a place to stay are on the increase and we do not have enough beds to offer everyone, something we will focus on in the coming year.”

In the longer term, the recently-granted planning approval for the Goldsworth Road development is good news for York Road Project, and Cherisse can now look forward to a purpose-built shelter which can accommodate more than 30 individuals.

Meanwhile, she has to manage with the accommodation she has.

“Those who can’t access beds go on the waiting list,” she added. “Some can sofa-surf [stay with different hosts for a short time] but the reality is that people will rough sleep.

“We have one gentleman in a tent and another in a vehicle. We have nine waiting for beds. Those not able to access us are being offered temporary accommodation at a bed and breakfast, but that’s only when the weather is below zero for three consecutive days.

“We have to look at finding other accommodation. We took on another property that we rent from the council to help reduce the numbers, but we need more.”

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