Festive refuge appeal now in its 21st year

An annual festive appeal which helps less fortunate families on the Fylde coast and in Fleetwood has been officially launched for this Christmas.

Fleetwood PCSO Linda Stackhouse is celebrating her 21st year in running the Wish Tree Appeal, which helps women, children and some men who will either spend their Christmas in refuges or who live in the community but have suffered domestic abuse.

Staff at the Asda Fleetwood store are among those who are lending their help to the appeal.

Last year around200 women and their children, and a smaller number of men, had a better Christmas - thanks to the generosity of the community.

Victims of domestic violence who sought sanctuary in three Fylde coast refuges or who live in the community received gifts for themselves and toys for their children.

Linda is collecting unwrapped gifts for mums and children aged up to 15, and these can be dropped off at a number of collection points throughout the town and also in Cleveleys.

Fleetwood-based Linda, who has been a PCSO for some 16 years and before that worked at the town’s Asda store, says she is constantly staggered by the generosity of people in the town.

She said: “I think part of the reason this appeal is so well supported is that people value their time at home over Christmas, and they realise not everyone is so lucky.

“Fleetwood people tend to be very generous anyway, and the support they give to this appeal is amazing.

“At Larkholme community centre, they have already handed over 200 gifts bags which I have now taken to the refuges.

“The appeal has been running for 21 years now and, if anything, it’s getting better and better.”

In Fleetwood, collection points include the following:

Asda Fleetwood, One Stop shops (Lord Street and Poulton Road branches), Ideal Dental Care on Dock Street, and the Halifax Bank on Poulton Street. Hesketh House pensions agency and Fleetwood High School are also big supporters.

In Cleveleys, gifts can be handed in to Barclays Bank on Victoria Road West, the Skipton Building Society on Bispham Road and The Works on Victoria Road West.

Glenda Smith, the manager of Fylde Coast Women’s Aid, said: “This appeal really does make a difference. When they get their presents, you can see what it means to them.”