John Lewis staff 'privileged' to surprise families with essential gifts

Kelly-Ann Richards pictured with two of her triplets and team from John Lewis Ipswich

Left: Kelly-Ann Richards pictured with two of her triplets Aliesha and Abigail, has been given a new oven by Home-Start Suffolk as part of their campaign to support families this Christmas Right:Gemma Devereux, and Jessica Southgate based at John Lewis in Ipswich worked with Home-Start as part of the 'Magical Christmas' campaign - Credit: Archant/Jessica Southgate and Gemma Devereux

Home-Start in Suffolk have teamed up with John Lewis in Ipswich to deliver surprise gifts of essential items including an oven and a sofa to vulnerable families this Christmas. 

The charity and the store have worked together to adapt the national John Lewis 'Magical Christmas' charity campaign to support parents in the county including those that are fleeing abusive relationships and struggling with mental health issues. 

They have done this by gifting families an essential item that will "make a difference beyond the festive season". 

"This is something we would never have been able to buy on our own"

Mum of four 'Lucy', lives in a small east Suffolk town - for many years she was in an abusive relationship. 

Her ex-partner would belittle her in front of her friends and family and use manipulative behaviour towards her and the children. 

Because of her ex-partner's behaviour Lucy withdrew from daily life, she even kept her children home from school and no longer attended appointments and groups.

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However thanks to the emotional support of her Home-Start volunteer Lucy grew in confidence.

Lucy and her children were given the gift of a brand new sofa from John Lewis, to replace their old broken one. 

Speaking about the surprise Lucy said: " I can’t thank John Lewis enough for giving me the sofa! It will make such a difference to my family.

"This is something we would never have been able to buy on our own and thanks to Home-Start and all they have done for us and to John Lewis we have something that will last a long time!”

"We have finally been able to cook a proper meal again"

Kelly-Ann Richards pictured with two of her triplets Aliesha and Abigail, has been given a new oven

Kelly-Ann Richards pictured with two of her triplets Aliesha and Abigail, has been given a new oven by Home-Start Suffolk as part of their campaign to help families in need at Christmas - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

Kelly-Ann Richards a single mother to triplets said she was "overwhelmed" to receive a new oven from John Lewis just a few weeks before Christmas Day. 

One of the triplets has complex health needs and before the arrival of the surprise oven Miss Richards had been managing with a broken cooker. 

Miss Richards, who lives in Carlton Colville, said: "We have finally been able to cook a proper meal again, something that would usually take half an hour used to take two hours to cook so this has really saved me so much time." 

“I cannot thank Home-Start in Suffolk enough for all they have done for us"

Eliza, who lives in Ipswich, is a mum of five children - her oldest child is 13 and her youngest is just six months old.

Living in a three-bedroom council house the family struggled with space and Eliza had to sleep on a small broken sofa in the living room so that her one of her children who has autism was able to sleep safely on his own. 

John Lewis stepped in to provide Eliza with a new sofa bed, which means Eliza can get a better nights sleep and the children have a new sofa to use during the day. 

Eliza said: "I cannot thank Home-Start in Suffolk enough for all they have done for us.  But this special surprise gift from John Lewis is lovely. Thank you to them for this really unexpected gift.”

Gemma Davies and Jessica Southgate, John Lewis Ipswich Community Liaison coordinators

Gemma Devereux and Jessica Southgate, John Lewis Ipswich Community Liaison coordinators - Credit: Jessica Southgate and Gemma Devereux

A team from John Lewis in Ipswich worked with Home Start to select families from across Suffolk that were in need of the key items - they were also gifted with a special Christmas hamper from the store. 

Gemma Devereux and Jessica Southgate, John Lewis Ipswich Community Liaison coordinators said: "It has been a privilege to be able to support these families and it's heart-warming to know we have been able to ease a little bit of the pressure at Christmas time."

Gemma and Jessica from John Lewis in Ipswich 

Gemma and Jessica from John Lewis in Ipswich - Credit: Jessica Southgate and Gemma Devereux

Some of the names used within this story have been changed to protect the identity of the families that have been helped by Home-Start Suffolk. 

The charity supports around 600 families each year, helping them with mental health challenges, illness, domestic abuse, disability, isolation and poverty.

Their network of 270 volunteers carry out home visits, telephone and video calls and run support groups. 

You can find out more about Home-Start Suffolk on their website - homestartinsuffolk.org.