A number of community groups in Epping Forest came together at Christmas in a project spearheaded by a charity in the district to bring some well-needed festive cheer to struggling families over the holiday season.

Multiple organisations including Essex Police, Epping Forest District Council, St John’s Church in Epping, St Mary’s Church in Harlow, The Grange Farm Trust, Rainbow Services and Bancroft’s School joined together with Voluntary Action Epping Forest (VAEF) to buy, wrap and distribute more than 300 presents to local families.

Christmas presents were also purchased and distributed to more than one hundred children across the Epping Forest district, with referrals being received from local schools and community service partners.

Active Essex provided funding for Christmas parties and festive family trips to Ashlyn’s Farm in North Weald, while other local families enjoyed day trips and guided tours around the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, courtesy of The West Ham Foundation.

VAEF community hub manager Nick Robinson said: “It has been amazing how much local kindness and generosity has come together this winter from individuals, volunteers and organisations. So many families have had a truly memorable Christmas this year thanks to the hard work of all these groups.”