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‘Help homeless teens this Christmas’ urge charity as referrals soar

Dundee based Help for Kids says referrals are ‘doubling by the day’. A new page has been set up for people to purchase local gift cards for the charity to distribute to teens in need

People are being asked to donate Dundee Gift Cards to teenagers in need, including those living in homeless units, as part of Help for Kids’ mission to make sure every child in Dundee wakes up to a present on Christmas morning.

Help for Kids supports children from birth to 18 who are economically or medically disadvantaged, funding a variety of items from beds to school trips. From the end of October, the charity’s focus is their Christmas toy appeal, gathering a sack of toys for children based on referrals. For Christmas 2023, referrals for teenagers will include a Dundee Gift Card.

Charity Manager Stacey Wallace says that the demand for their services is growing in Dundee:

“When a referral comes in from a school or a professional working with a family, it includes a few details about the child, such as the fact that they like cars or Barbie dolls. We then make up the Santa Sack including four toys, a selection box, a book and a teddy. For teenagers, we usually offer gift vouchers. We’ve switched to the Dundee Gift Card because teens can spend it in a variety of ways, from a trip to the cinema to a coffee with a friend.

“Many of the teenagers we support are homeless, living in homeless units, so it’s even more vital that the gift card we’re giving enables them to buy something they really want or need. They can use the Dundee Gift Card to buy food, clothes or toiletries. We get lots of people asking how they can support teenagers and donations of things like Lynx gift sets, which are great but we can’t give a teen four gift sets. That’s why the gift card donation is such a great idea, so we can support teenagers in need this Christmas, and throughout the year too.

“There’s also a sense of empowerment for the teen. Rather than us giving them winter clothes that we’ve chosen that we like, we can give them the Dundee Gift Card so they can purchase winter clothes that they’ve chosen that they like. It also means that they can experience the things that many of us take for granted, like choosing what colour toothbrush they want. An added benefit for us is that the card supports Dundee, helping power job opportunities for local people and locking money into the economy.

“As a charity, we’re seeing a huge increase in demand due to the cost of living and the pandemic is still playing its part. Many families have lost their jobs. Without our help, there will be kids waking up with nothing in Dundee this Christmas. Our mission is to make Christmas magical for the kids so they can wake up on Christmas morning and feel that moment of joy when they see their gifts. Referrals are doubling by the day.

“If you have a spare £5 to donate a Dundee Gift Card to a child in need, we’d be so grateful for your support.”

Over 220 businesses now registered to accept the Scotland Loves Local Dundee Gift Card as payment, including national brands like Aldi, Boots and Primark, and many independent shops, cafés, restaurants, attractions, salons and more.

Alison Henderson, CEO, Dundee & Angus Chamber of Commerce said:

“We’re proud to be working alongside Help for Kids on this important initiative to offer useful support for families in need in Dundee. Dundee Gift Cards purchased through the new page will be sent directly to Help for Kids, and distributed by the charity at Christmas and beyond, ready to be spent with Dundee businesses. What better way to support local children, and local businesses, this Christmas.”

The Scotland Loves Local Gift Card initiative was introduced in 2021 as a means to direct spend to local communities, and power economic recovery, delivered by Scotland’s Town Partnership (STP) and Perth based fintech Miconex.

Scotland’s Towns Partnership chief officer Kimberley Guthrie said:

“None of us likes to think of a child going without, especially at Christmas. This is a fantastic initiative which means young people can enjoy the magic of the season – with the added benefit of ensuring they can choose to buy exactly what they need, perhaps something as essential as winter clothes. This is another great example of how the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card can support people and local businesses.”

Colin Munro, managing director of Miconex said:

“All charities we spoke with in 2023 said they have seen increased demand from service users since the pandemic, with 67% expecting demand to rise in 2024. Charities are also evolving the support they offer, with 73% saying offering choice to service users was important to them. The Scotland Loves Local Gift Card offers charities like Help for Kids a means to offer ultimate local choice to service users coupled with choice, dignity and empowerment, supporting the charity’s aims.”