THE Countess of Wessex has helped volunteers at The Lighthouse in Woking to pack more than 1,000 parcels with Christmas presents and treats for people in financial difficulty.

The town centre hub, which houses a range of projects, was filled with items bought from £7,000 donated by local people.

The countess spent a day recently helping to sort out items and pack parcels and chatting to the volunteers.

The Lighthouse usually accepts donations of items for people in need at Christmas but this year has switched to buying toys, food and other goods from money sent in.

Lucy Barker, from The Lighthouse, said the parcels contain treats for young children and goodies for adults, including fleecy blankets and hot water bottles.

“These will go to children who otherwise wouldn’t have a present under the tree,” Lucy said.

The families being helped have mostly been referred to The Lighthouse by various agencies.

Most will be delivered while some of the parcels will be picked up from the hub.

Some of the parcels will go to people who will be on their own on Christmas Day.

The Lighthouse has set up several initiatives to deal with the impact of coronavirus.

One of these is the Love Your Neighbour campaign in which local people have helped to provide more than 40 large kitchen appliances, 25 sets of furniture and the clearing of debts.

Donors have also supported counselling and helped adults back into education by paying for fees and supplies.

In the run-up to Christmas, The Lighthouse team have created a magical Winterland for families in financial need.

“As part of collecting essentials such as food parcels, toys, nappies, baby clothing and equipment, children will be dazzled by thousands of fairy lights in an indoor Christmas tree forest where they can spot woodland creatures and have their family photo taken,” Lucy said.

The Lighthouse and Emmaus Rd Church in Guildford have pledged to raise £145,000 which the Government will then match as part of a national scheme.

The £290,000 will go towards Woking Foodbank, a new money advice service and coaching and programmes to help people get into work or find new jobs.

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