A FUND set up by artist Stuart Semple helped 364 families – more than 1,200 people – enjoy a brighter and happier Christmas says a new report by Dorset Community Foundation.
The Designs For Humanity Fund, which has been running for three years, donated £10,000 to groups in and around Bournemouth using profits from the sales of thousands of special edition Christmas art tins through Mr Semple’s Culture Hustle website.
Stuart had initially wanted to start his own charity fund but chose to work with Dorset Community Foundation because he recognised it could reach the groups tackling the need locally far more efficiently because of its knowledge of the area. “Being a partner with Dorset Community Foundation made it so easy and we were able to get the fund up and running really quickly. The way the fund is done well and properly, and it’s thorough and robust,” he said.
A £2,250 grant was used to contribute to Citygate Church’s Christmas Hamper project in partnership with Bournemouth Foodbank and 50 partners from the voluntary sector who referred identify families most in need.
Other funding for the project was raised by a sponsorship campaign and other small grants. Around 200 Christmas hampers were packed and delivered with the help of 200 volunteers, overseen by two staff members.
One case worker told the church: “Thank you so much to everyone involved from the bottom of my heart. You are making so much difference to people that have nothing at Christmas. My client was absolutely in tears to receive the hamper. She has two children to feed and had no food at all.”
Around 30 families received hampers from Poole Foodbank, which also received £2,250 and added more than £1,000 of its own funds to cover costs. The foodbank said: “Beneficiaries were overwhelmed by the generosity of the donation. A large percentage of the recipients had told their children that Christmas was cancelled this year because they had no funds to buy Christmas food, treats or toys.”
Being a partner with Dorset Community Foundation made it so easy and we were able to get the fund up and running really quickly
One recipient, a single parent who is a victim of domestic abuse, said: “Thank you very much, every little helps, every little gift makes this time more magical. I was worried how I was going to prepare this year Christmas for me and my little boy, but with help we received it is much easier and we really appreciate it. Thank you very much for support.”
Wimborne Foodbank used its £2,250 grant to add to £1,000 of its funds to create 50 hampers of food, toys and treats. It said: “This grant has made a huge difference to the receipts and their families. Most of these families would not have had a Christmas without it. They were so relieved when they did not have to tell their children that they could not have a Christmas this year.”
One recipient told the foodbank: “We have been really anxious with Christmas approaching, and with three children who have risen to all the challenges that they have faced this year, we were bracing ourselves to tell them unfortunately that they had to miss out on Christmas this year. Your help means that our babies will have presents to open on Christmas Day and we are forever eternally grateful.”
Grants of £2,250 also went to Blandford and Christchurch foodbanks, who between them more than 80 hampers.
Dorset Community Foundation director Grant Robson said: “Once again Stuart has used his amazing reputation and talent to galvanise his own network and support his home county. Hearing some of the stories of the people whose Christmas was lit up by his generosity is very moving.
“We are very thankful for his dedication to putting something back and we are looking forward to working with him again.”
Read the full Designs For Humanity impact report here.
Pictured: Top from left, Citygate Church, Stuart Semple and Poole Foodbank