YOUNG people in Warwickshire won’t be going without this festive period if Norma has anything to do with it.
For over 25 years, Norma Wilson has created hampers for young people who have recently left care and asylum seekers who now live alone without family support.
For those without families, Christmas can be a lonely and difficult time, and many do not receive any gifts at all, with the cost of living crisis presenting additional pressures for many this year.
Norma used to be a foster carer for Warwickshire County Council, fostering over 130 children and young people and working in the community supporting young people and fostering families.
She started putting together a few Christmas hampers for care leavers 25 years ago in Rugby, but over the last couple of years the number has snowballed to well over two hundred.
As well as Christmas gifts, the hampers also contain essentials such as socks, gloves, soups, toothbrushes and anything else that might be of use, from festive goodies to household provisions. Some of the hampers go to young people with babies and donations such as hand-knitted cardigans, hats and gloves are included in the boxes.
Norma also includes a Christmas card in each of the hampers signed ‘From Norma, and people who care.’
Over the years Norma has gathered a following and a steady stream of donations come in from neighbours, friends, work colleagues and local businesses including charities, footballs clubs and supermarkets. The hampers fill almost every available space in her home, and she starts putting them together from October before they are sent out across the county in the run-up to Christmas.
Norma said: “It is a privilege to put these hampers together for the county’s young people who have little support at this time of year. The gifts are always well-received and it brings great joy just to be able to brighten up their day with a hamper that brings a smile to their face and makes a small difference.
“Thank you so much to everybody who has helped this year. This is the best year ever and I can’t believe it, I thought it was going to be the worst year but it’s not, it’s the best. This might be the only thing the young people get at Christmas, so thank you to everybody.”
WCC’s children’s services spokesman, Coun Jeff Morgan, said: “The council takes its role of corporate parent very seriously and this does not stop when our young people leave care. We put children at the heart of everything we do, and what Norma does is such an amazing example of this.
“Becoming a young adult can be a challenging time, harder still if you have grown up without family and are navigating the world alone. The effort and contribution that Norma has made to our care leavers and asylum seekers across Warwickshire over the last 25 years is simply outstanding.
“Her commitment to providing something special for vulnerable young people at Christmas is incredible and we cannot thank Norma enough for everything she does.”