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A brand new year is upon us and we hope you had a restful and enjoyable Christmas. A wide variety of events and fundraisers were run for us over the Christmas period, organised by lovely people, taking time out of their own festivities to support us. We are so grateful to everyone that has raised money or donated and have tried to thank as many as possible on our social channels. There have been so many that it has been hard to keep up!

The Christmas Giving Window situated in the city centre was created as a novel and quick way to donate, created by Whitefriars and Canterbury BID, the window contained a ‘Tap to Donate’ area that allowed passers by to send us a donation. Thank you to anyone that tapped as they passed by!

We received many donations of food and items over the Christmas period from churches, supermarkets and individuals. The Foundation Church, Ashford and the New Life Church, Canterbury dropped by with some items for us and Waitrose donated mince pies for our clients to enjoy over Christmas too. Philip Goddard dropped by with some gift cards for us to buy what we need from Sainsbury’s. We also received donations from individuals and businesses that joined in with our reverse advent, KA Engineering didn’t stop there though, bringing their reverse advent calendar and a cheque for £1250! For everyone that popped an item in a box each day to bring to the centre, these are much needed items for clients staying outdoors over Winter and also items that we were in need of at the centre too, so thank you to anyone that took part. We plan to update the website shortly with a new list of needed items for anyone wishing to pick up an item every so often for us with their shopping.

As regularly as Christmas,

Canterbury Community Shelter happens every year between December and February to provide warm accommodation to clients at the coldest times of the year.

Usually, the Shelter runs with a church-based shelter available for up to 20 people and we had the beds made, the staff volunteers recruited, trained and ready to go.

Unfortunately, Department of Leveling up, Communities and Housing guidance meant that we could not safely proceed with this model, leaving us with a conundrum.

A long time friend and supporter of Catching Lives, Hotelier and shopkeeper, Lynda Desmarais, very kindly stepped in to lend us a city centre Bed & Breakfast for the duration of The Shelter, allowing for clients to have their own space to stay and distance from others.

Six Guests have been accommdated so far and we aim to help them and others into permanent homes.

If you would like to see inside this years Shelter, there is a short video available to view on our Facebook page.

As you may be aware, we provide mental health support to clients at our Day Centre with trained mental health specialists. Denis and Karen work tirelessly with clients to help and support them and with depression rates ten times higher in the homeless population, we are keen to extend this support via outreach services. We are pleased to report that we have received funding of £8493 to help with this project and we are extremely grateful to the Philip and Connie Phillips Foundation for providing us with these funds.

Ralph Lombart’s Raffle

Ralph Lombart is a local photographer and long-term supporter of Catching Lives, taking stunning photographs around the Canterbury area. For Christmas 2021, he raffled some beautiful photographs of Canterbury, displaying them at Phoebe’s Coffee House and Café Chambers, Canterbury. The raffle and additional donations raised £2,272 and we hope the raffle winners are over the moon with their wonderful prizes.

Unity Fitness Fundraiser

A somewhat unusual fundraiser over Christmas was one run by Unity Fitness in Canterbury. They challenged their coaches to a gruelling workout, setting a target of £800 on their Just Giving fundraising page. Luke Bicknell, the organiser said, “The members are going to set the workout and the more money they donate, the more suffering the coaches will put themselves through!”. The fundraiser has raised £1305 to date, and we dread to think of the workout they must have been through after exceeding their target by over £500! Thank you to Unity Fitness, all of the coaches and anyone that donated to the fundraiser.

Canterbury Residents Group

The Canterbury Residents Facebook Group ran an appeal to their 49,500 followers this Christmas, encouraging people to donate via their Just Giving page. To date, they have raised £2,958 for this appeal and across all of their fundraisers, have raised just under £25,000 for us. This group consistently show fantastic community spirit, helping each other and the homeless via their online community. Thank you to everyone that donated.

Chilham Christmas Tree Fundraiser

The village of Chilham came together to decorate Christmas trees, displayed at St Mary’s Church, Chilham throughout December. The decorations were a vast array of colours and styles, including one tree made entirely of wine bottles, which you can see on the Chilham St Mary’s Church Facebook page. They raised a phenomenal £1400 for us from the event and we would like to thank them for their support.

With such a busy time of year, we have many people to thank in this newsletter. Canterbury Bowling Club raised £107 for us over Christmas, United Industrious Lodge dropped by with a cheque for £100 and Body In Mind Yoga raised £94 despite having to run the class remotely due to Covid. Ella (pictured below) has been collecting for us for two years and came to the centre with £50 for us and another young collector, Molly filled shoeboxes with items for our clients to use. The Canterbury Chamber Choir ran their Songs of Christmas Concert in aid of Catching Lives and everyone that attended enjoyed the event. To anyone else that ran an event, donated items, donated money or helped us throughout the Christmas period, thank you very much.

If you are planning an event this year to raise funds for us, please do take a look at our Fundraising page or get in touch – we can help to promote the event via social media, provide T-shirts and other promotional materials and we just love hearing about all of the events and clever fundraising ideas people have to raise money for us.

Thanks for reading!

The Catching Lives Team

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