“I’m sure that at this time of year we are all busily preparing for Christmas. It can be a fun but stressful time buying presents, preparing food and seeing family. This time of the year is called Advent – a time of preparation, of getting ready for a big event. For some, that event is the birth of Jesus. I saw an advert for a fragranced candle recently which uses wonderful images and words such as ‘this is what Christmas feels like, what Christmas tastes like, what Christmas smells like’. Very emotive, powerful words.

When I think of Advent and preparing for Christmas I often think of words such as warmth, light, smell, comfort. For most of us it is easy to see how we can make those words come to life. We hopefully have warm homes and share warm memories with family and friends. We can see the extra lights on our Christmas decorations and the candles we will light. The smells may be our Christmas trees or the food we will eat or the drinks we will share. Comfort comes from all of these things – knowing we can have a good Christmas with our friends and family. Yes, we may all go a bit over on our spending, but for many people this will not cause too many problems, we can pay our credit cards off over the next few months.

As supporters and partners of the Big Help Project I’m sure you are only too aware that for many people Christmas, and the rest of their year, is nothing like the ideal displayed in adverts. For many people who live in poverty, Christmas may be a time that tips them into crisis. They have no money to buy presents, and the cold weather means that money they would spend on food needs to go on fuel. Perhaps their children get a hot meal in school, but with a two-week holiday the safety net of school meals disappears. These are the people that the Big Help Project helps. Our aim is to ‘feed the hungry in Knowsley, and to work with people who are in poverty to help them overcome that poverty and move on to a better future.’

It is because of people such as you-who work with us day in and day out, donating food and money, supporting people in crisis by referring them to us-that we are able to help so many. Last year we fed more than 8000 people and all indicators show that the number will increase this year. We have been able to help more than 200 new families through Baby Basics, and have helped many, many people find a way out of debt and into work or training. Our Big Help Trading is going from strength to strength offering people the opportunity to buy much needed goods in a much more ethical, sustainable way. Without your help and support, little of this would be possible.

We could not begin to thank people individually, but I hope that through this message you can appreciate how grateful we are to everyone, from Knowsley Borough Council to the person in Tesco the other week who donated 1 tin of peas saying “I’m sorry love, that’s all I can afford, but I wanted to say thank you for helping me earlier this year” We simply couldn’t do it without such wonderful support from so many businesses, organisations, churches, schools and individuals. We hope and pray that you continue to support us, especially as we move to our new premises in Link Rd, Huyton

As Christmas speeds towards us may we wish you all a very merry Christmas and a peaceful, joyous New Year.”

As Tiny Tim said "A Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us, every one!" Author: Charles Dickens