Jeremy Corbyn MP joins volunteers to give free Christmas presents to kids in Finsbury Park
PUBLISHED: 09:37 24 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:33 24 December 2019
Jeremy Corbyn MP donned a father Christmas hat and joined volunteers to hand out free presents to kids in Finsbury Park yesterday (December 23).
The "unstoppable" community stalwart Sam Hadfield organised the initiative and free toys will be given away again today outside the National Hemp Service shop at 167 Stroud Green Road from 11am to 3pm.
"Yesterday was so lovely," said Sam, who's a mentor and trains homeless people at Caris Boxing Club. "What really shocked me was, we know people are having it hard at the moment yeah, but the number of grandparents coming in and saying: 'Can I have a couple of presents for my grandkids?'. It was heart touching. People are really struggling and it was an easy thing to do."
All toys have been donated by the community. They've been wrapped by Sam and other volunteers at St Aidan's VC Primary School, in Albany Road.
Tommy Corbyn, son of the Islington North MP, runs National Hemp Service with his girlfriend and business partner Chloe Kerslake-Smith.
Chloe told the Gazette: "People say it's this really well off area but there's a lot of people who don't have luxuries at Christmas around here. But there are a lot of presents to go around. [...]
"Everyone around has been so lovely. We think we gave away about 70 presents."
Tommy added: "It's just such a nice thing to do to give back to people in the community. Christmas can be such a stressful time for people anyway and then couple it with having to think about presents and food, it can be such a stress."
He said they've been "inspired" to try and do something similar next year and paid tribute "the most unbelievable lovely guy", Sam.
Jon Glackin, coordinator of grassroots homeless outreach agency Streets Kitchen, said: "It's good to bring some Christmas joy to the community. There is a lot of poverty in this area, there's families struggling and kids going without this Christmas. It's something amazing to see kids smiling."
In a Christmas Eve message posted on social media, outgoing Labour leader Mr Corbyn said: "At Christmas too often the scale of injustice and inequality is in very plain site. As people hurry home through our busy high streets, often loaded with shopping bags, seeing those who have no homes and no hope beside them. Adverts for mouth watering Christmas meals when we know many children are hungry. [...] But our communities are built on generosity and the solidarity that comes from that. So we do not walk by on the other side. This Christmas I know so many people will be out helping those less fortunate. Helping in food banks, working in shelters and trying to find children who are homeless emergency shelter. [...] Together we have the power to bring about change in our communities."
Chloe and Tommy are also taking pre-arranged deliveries of tampons and sanitary towels at their shop to give to homeless women as part of Streets Kitchens Tricky Periods campaign.
They're accepting the products before their full opening but donations must be arranged in advance by email: TheTrickyPeriod@gmail.com
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Islington Gazette. Click the link in the orange box below for details.