Christmas Lunches for 175 people!

The Balsam Family Project, laid on a two-course Christmas lunch for 43 families at the Didcot Civic Hall on Saturday 9th December.

Charity trustees, volunteers and staff came together to cook and serve turkey with all the trimmings to around 175 people from Didcot and the surrounding areas. Balsam also teamed up with other local charities and businesses to ensure the families they work with had a day to remember – with Secret Santa Oxfordshire handing out wrapped gifts to all and the Didcot Foodbank ensuring families went home with festive hampers. The cost of providing the hampers was an estimated £2,000-3,000. Bright Horizons Nurseries gave a book to every child.

Alex Walker, Balsam founder and Project Manager, said: “We’re so grateful to our friends at Secret Santa and Bright Horizons for their support and to Rabbits Vehicle Hire for providing much needed transport so we could get the hampers to where they were needed.
“For a charity that aims to bring families – and family members – closer together, nothing could be more rewarding than looking out on a sea of happy faces and watching people enjoy being with and around loved ones at Christmas time.
“We believe in the value of every adult and child and seek to encourage a sense of worth and value that parents can pass on to their own children.”

Didcot Mayor Jackie Billington was amongst the volunteers who offered their services to wait on tables. John Hobbs, lead singer and guitarist with local band The Gangbusters, performed a Christmas set with daughters Julie and Joanne, while a children’s entertainer from Oxford Entertainments ensured the kids had plenty to do, and laugh at.

At the Civic Hall event, certificates were also presented to graduates from Balsam’s own college courses. Single mum Amanda said: “I’m overwhelmed with the kind words said about me and I’ll be volunteering for the charity after I complete my course.”

Alex Walker added: “We currently work with more than 90 families in Oxfordshire and it is so rewarding to see people grow in confidence and flourish. Our belief in the importance of family is at the heart of everything we do.”