A drive to collect Christmas gifts for vulnerable children and young people across Epping Forest received over 70 gifts and £700 in donations from local businesses, community groups and residents.

The Christmas Giving Campaign, run by Epping Forest District Council (EFDC), Voluntary Action Epping Forest (VAEF) and Essex Police, included a crowdfunding campaign and gift donation drop-off at the Council Civic Offices in Epping.

Through a network of referrals, involving Epping Forest Schools Partnership Trust, Essex Police and partners from the Epping Community Hub, VAEF and Epping Forest Foodbank, local vulnerable children and young people across the district were identified and given suitable gifts.

Groups that helped included Grange Farm Trust and Waltham Abbey Football Club while district councillor Jeanie Lea and a multiple gift-giver from Loughton were thanked for their time and donations for this campaign.

Epping Forest District Council chairman Cllr Helen Kane said: "Thank you everyone involved, from those who donated gifts or money to the crowdfunding to those who gave their time to wrap and deliver the presents. This campaign celebrates partnership working and the importance of bringing a community together to help the district’s vulnerable children have a great Christmas at these challenging times."

Karen Bowden, family support worker at Epping Forest Schools Partnership Trust (EFSPT). said: "30 children within our trust schools and beyond will be receiving gifts because of your generosity.

"The families have expressed their thanks and gratitude. I know what a great help this will be to them.

"So, to everyone who donated, purchased, wrapped and delivered a very big thank you from EFSPT."

Sarah Hurwood, wellbeing lead for the partnership trust, added: "I know that the donations our EFSPT families receive make a big difference and we are hugely grateful to everyone involved."

The Epping Community Hub opened in September 2021. It provides space for residents to get support and advice from Epping Forest District Council and community partner organisations including, Citizens Advice, Epping Forest Foodbank, CHESS Homeless.

Find out more about the Epping Community Hub at www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/community/epping-community-hub/