• Dave Cawley and Sam Robson of Basis@Sunderland, Janet Robe of Engie and Billy Broad of Gentoo

Gentoo’s Secret Santa appeal helps those most in need this Christmas

Our staff and customers have embraced the spirit of Christmas by helping some of the most vulnerable people in Sunderland.

Every year, we donate gifts and toys to local charities and makes donations to food banks throughout the city.

This December, our staff and customers have gone out of their way to help those in the community, who are struggling financially, are socially isolated, or at risk of homelessness.

This year, we partnered with ENGIE (formerly Keepmoat Regeneration) to spread festive cheer to some of the most disadvantaged people in Sunderland by donating more than 1,500 items.

Often a donated gift is the only present someone receives, and more than 300 adults and children across the city have received clothing, gift sets, toys, pet treats and toiletries, delivered by Gentoo and ENGIE volunteers.

Beneficiaries included Together for Children, Happier Days for Strays, and Basis@Sunderland – a homeless drop-in centre opened in the city by Oasis Community Housing in February this year.

According to a recent report by Shelter England, more than 300,000 people are currently homeless in Britain, meaning one in every 200 people are now either sleeping rough or in temporary accommodation.

David Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Oasis Community Housing said: “Christmas can be a difficult time for many of the people we work with, so it’s wonderful to be able to demonstrate to every individual in our projects that we believe they too deserve a gift this Christmas.

“We’re so grateful to the folks at Gentoo for their generosity and partnership in our work. These partnerships are so vital and we want to invite and encourage the whole North East business community to invest financially in a future where no one has to be homeless.”

Gentoo volunteers who play a brass instrument also put on a festive performance and entertained Gentoo’s residents in extra care and sheltered schemes.

Michelle Meldrum, Executive Director (Operations) said: “Once again we are overwhelmed with the kindness of our staff, customers and partners who donate their time and money to make a difference to people’s lives.

“For many, Christmas is one of the hardest times of the year and even the smallest act of kindness can make such a difference.

“These gestures will have brought joy to the faces of hundreds of people across Sunderland, who otherwise would not have received a gift this Christmas.

“On behalf of Gentoo, I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated a gift, volunteered their time to deliver them or helped spread the word about this year’s appeal.”