Kent police give Secret Santa gifts to vulnerable children

How a team of local police staff came up with a plan to give to children who might otherwise receive very little this Christmas.

“I think people don’t always want to get stuff they’re not going to use,” Becci’s gentle Kent accent explains.

Another box of chocolates, soap set or ‘nick nack’ gifts that end up in a drawer; Secret Santa seemed an unnecessary indulgence. She wanted to do something festive, but this just didn’t seem right to her. After all, she knew her colleagues would be receiving many other gifts in the next few weeks from friends and family.

Becci is a Police Staff Investigator in Kent Police. As a member of the Paedophile Online Investigation team, her job sees the darkest of what can happen to children. They work hard to safeguard children and make the internet a hostile place for predators.

She decided that her and her team could do better than your usual office Secret Santa. Becci instead came up with a plan for the team of police officers and staff to each give a small gift to a local child, a child who might otherwise receive very little this Christmas.

Getting her idea off the ground was the hardest part. Reaching vulnerable children and those who work with them is rightly difficult. Plus, most were unable to accept gifts. “When I was trying to work out who to give to, it was hard to find a local charity that were open to presents, most welcomed donations,” Becci admits, “But people get put off by the idea of just donations. A chosen gift feels more special.”

Becci connected with her local Home for Good Project Worker, Billy-Jo in Kent, who in turn linked her with Chatham-based charity the Diagrama Foundation. Diagrama has a fostering and adoption agency in the South East, and also supports vulnerable children and young people in residential care. Together they came up with a way to make Becci’s Christmas plan a reality.

Instead of the usual name pulled out of the Secret Santa hat, each team member drew out a little slip of paper with an age and a gender on it. Rather than trying to find some small gift for a colleague whose name draws up little recognition of personality or interests, the team were challenged to choose a gift for a child in care.

Even with this small amount of information they enthusiastically sourced small gifts for the 14 children Diagrama identified. The identity protection is of course essential, but it also adds a poetic beauty to the gift. The team also gifted a further six gifts that all the children and young people could enjoy, like board games and toys.

A delighted David McGuire, Diagrama's Chief Executive said: "What a wonderful example of the community pulling together to help those in need. Thank you to everyone involved in making this happen – it is such a thoughtful gesture that will help make Christmas just that little bit better for the children and young people in our care."

Author:
Home for Good


Date published:
19th December 2019


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