Housing association, Aster Group is helping to bring Christmas to families struggling over the festive period across Hampshire this year.

‘Christmas Complete’, a project run by Hampshire charity, SCRATCH, provides toys and gifts to disadvantaged children and young people who otherwise may not receive a present on Christmas day. Aster employees stepped in and volunteered their time to SCRATCH to help them sort and pack Christmas parcels for families referred to the charity this year.

Aster supports its employees to volunteer for projects like this one as part of its work with customers and their communities under the Aster Foundation.  The Foundation invests in activities and projects which enable local people to improve their own lives, with services and support around financial wellbeing, volunteering, finding work and mental health. 

Jane Smith, Trustee of SCRATCH said: ‘We really appreciated all that the volunteers achieved. Toys were sorted, puzzles were checked, and books grouped into appropriate ages. Their help supported the ‘Christmas Complete’ project that gives nearly 2,000 vulnerable local children a parcel of gifts from Santa. Thank you to Aster for their support.” 

SCRATCH makes over a thousand deliveries of furniture a year, helping on average, 30 adults and 22 children each week. One person to benefit from the project is a mother of two who was referred to SCRATCH after years of domestic violence. The family sought safety in a refuge and were eventually allocated a flat. SCRATCH provided the furniture and furnishings needed to turn the flat into a home and last Christmas, delivered parcels of toys for her children. This isn’t unique and the need for the service is increasing with referrals coming thick and fast from across Hampshire.

Volunteer, Emma McMaster, a governance partner at Aster said: “It was a very rewarding and humbling experience working with the fantastic SCRATCH team. It was an honour to work alongside colleagues from around the business to serve our tenants and the wider community. An experience I will never forget.”

Cam Kinsella, Aster Foundation director commented: “I couldn’t be more proud to work alongside great organisations such as SCRATCH which delivers  vital services and support to our communities.  Investing people power into our communities is a key part of the Aster Foundations strategy and we look forward to investing more hours through 2020.”

To find out more about the Aster Foundation and its work visit the Aster Group website: https://www.aster.co.uk/foundation For more information about SCRATCH visit their website: https://www.scratchcharity.co.uk/