Last year our Support Workers, Natalie and Chelsey, earned the nicknames Jingle and Jangle as they embraced the Christmas spirit. This year once again we are pulling out all the stops for the CHT Community to celebrate Christmas.
As a children’s charity, Carolina House Trust has never shied away from Christmas festivities. Providing a community experience and a generous sprinkle of childlike magic helps us show our appreciation to each other and we believe that all children and young people should experience joy in their lives.
Natalie and Chelsey have no sooner removed the last (fake) Hallowe’en cobweb from the building before they throw themselves headfirst into Christmas. While keeping up a schedule of one-to-one support work, assisting with family time and getting the views of our young people, they get to work leading the Christmas Programme.
We asked them to share a timeline of the festive season at CHT.
The Christmas Party date is secured in our calendar at the start of each year when we share the dates of all our community events. Our families enjoy a lot of weekend activities so we need to save the dates for our events early.
We have participation events throughout the year to gather the opinions of our young people. They tell us at the Inclusion Day that they would like to go bowling as a group later in the year. We like the idea that the whole community can take part in bowling as an inclusive event.
With our summer programme complete and Hallowe’en well underway, work begins on the details of our Festive Programme. The whole team get involved. We send invitations and gather RSVPs from our families. This year we have booked a trip to the bowling alley and a party at Head Office.
In the invitation pack, we also include details of our Christmas Card competition and ask the community to think about their achievements for the year.
We like to buy our children and young people thoughtful and individual Christmas gifts so we check with the carers that we are on the right track. We then go shopping! Thankfully Ruth from BrightSolid came across the road to help us wrap gifts.
We also treat our carer families to a goody bag and assemble these in November. We give them to carers at their Christmas lunch.
Santa is in demand in December so we address the challenge of booking him for our party in our all-staff meeting. Against all the odds, we secured his services for an hour.
From the end of November, we start to get the building party-ready. We have lots of decorations to choose from, including many our young people have made over the years.
We do a big order online for party food at the beginning of December and Natalie collects it the day before the party.
We announce the winner of our Christmas Card design competition. This year the winning card was designed by Brodie, aged 6. We print some copies and send a message digitally.
We like to get the RSVP’s in nice and early so we can plan all our special touches but we always find ourselves accommodating last-minute changes due to family circumstances.
Our carers enjoy a festive lunch. At an autumn coffee morning, some carers said they would like to go out to a local restaurant this year and we booked exactly that.
In the week leading up to the community party, we get set up in between visiting young people and providing support. Natalie is also busy writing a quiz for the event for families to enjoy as a team.
We host the party on a Saturday in December with the staff team pitching in to organise the bowling, preparing a buffet, organising entertainment and providing Santa with gifts. It’s great to see everyone enjoying themselves and connecting with other community members.
After the clean-up, we have some gifts to deliver to carers and young people who could not attend. The staff team deliver these while out and about doing visits or supervision with foster carers.
After a well-deserved break, ‘Jingles & Jangles’ collect feedback from young people about participation and events this year and use that to plan this year’s events.