Santa schoolboy’s support for the homeless

Santa schoolboy’s support for the homeless

AN 11-year-old Leeds schoolboy has pulled out all the stops to ensure vulnerable homeless people have a happier Christmas this year.

Josh Marshall raised £153 through donations from friends, family and his parents’ work colleagues which he then used to put together 30 – 15 male and 15 female – gift bags in response to a Christmas Appeal launched by Turning Lives Around (TLA). As a result he won TLA’s Award for Young Champion of the Year.

Josh heard about the Christmas Appeal through his aunt Jenny Lewis who is a Senior Worker working with homeless women as part of the Beacon service which TLA delivers in conjunction with two other Leeds charities Touchstone and Foundation.

Launched in 2017, Beacon supports homeless people with multiple and complex needs providing accommodation for up to 230 people plus tailored support to help tenants get their lives back on track.

Yorkshire based charity Turning Lives Around works with people at risk to prevent homelessness and empower them to change their own lives and live independently within sustainable communities.

Beacon is one of a number of supported housing schemes which they run for specific groups of vulnerable people who are homeless such as young people, women with alcohol dependency issues and people with mental health and other complex needs.

“Christmas Day can be a tough time for many and our various schemes will be full of people taking those first steps to starting new lives,” explained TLA’s CEO Janet Spencer.

“Our gift bags usually contain something warm to wear, savoury and sweet food items, something to help the recipient get organised and toiletries. They can make all the difference and help people get through the day.

“We are delighted by the response we have had to this year’s appeal but are particularly overwhelmed and touched by Josh’s thoughtfulness and generosity of spirit. His added gesture to donate the £10 he had left from his fundraising to buy cheesecake – his favourite pud – for Christmas dessert for the residents of Francis House where his aunt works just shows what a caring and considerate young man he is. He is a worthy recipient of our Young Champion award.”

If you’d like to bring a bit of Christmas cheer to the lives of those fallen on hard times, it’s not too late. Items for gift bags can be left at TLA’s central office in Ashbrooke Business Park, Parkside Lane, Leeds LS11 5SF or you can make a donation via