Sheffield primary school opens its doors to help families who have nothing this festive season

A Sheffield primary school has opened its doors at Christmas to help those in its community who may otherwise struggle or go without this festive season.

Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 1:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 1:10 pm

Mansel Primary School invited some of the most vulnerable families living in the surrounding area to its first ever ‘Christmas Eve Eve’ event on Monday, December 23, in the hope of spreading the festive cheer.

Billed as the ultimate Christmas experience, during the day the children and their families were treated to a warm Christmas dinner served by the school’s catering staff as well as Christmas baking sessions with Mrs Claus and a fun-filled disco.

Every child was also given the opportunity to visit Santa and unwrap one of the many gifts donated by businesses and other schools.

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Christmas Eve Eve party at Mansel Primary School. Aleema Shaffi and Alysha Bromley decorate christmas biscuits with Mrs Claus.

Headteacher Emily Matthews said: “As a school community we have very high levels of deprivation and, year upon year, it feels like the situation is getting worse. Last Christmas it became very apparent that a lot of our children were struggling around Christmas time. I think Christmas time is a very expensive time, you can’t get out and have a free picnic or free play in the park - everything costs.

“So, when the children came back to school after the Christmas holidays some of the tales that they told us really put into perspective the need our families have. We just felt we could meet that need a little bit.”

Mansel Primary is situated in the north of Sheffield on an estate in Parson Cross - an area which is among the most deprived in the city according to data collected from the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) which was most recently updated in September 2019.

Meanwhile across the UK, the number of children living in low-income households and suffering severe material deprivation has increased to nearly one in eight, according to official statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions for 2017-18.

Cheryl Wilks, Teresa Yates and Bijal Mistry help out with the food at the Mansel Primary Christmas Eve Eve party

This finding is based on a survey of whether households can afford things such as a warm winter coat, celebrations on special occasions, and separate bedrooms for children of different genders over the age of ten.

“Our staff have been amazing,” Ms. Matthews added. “We’ve got a team of about 50 staff here, none of them are being paid they’ve all donated their time free of charge and to do that the day before Christmas Eve is really something.

“The day has been great, the children seem very happy and overwhelmed I think. We've had lots of positive feedback from parents on the door just saying thank you for doing this. We're hoping it’s just a relief for our parents because we’re doing it so that they don’t necessarily have to spend as much as they may have felt they had to.”

Daisy Parker-Barrett, whose daughter Honor is in Reception and son Hugo is in Year 2 at Mansel Primary, said: “I think it’s brilliant, the kids seem to really enjoy it as well. I just think it’s such a great idea because there are a lot of kids that aren’t as fortunate as others.”

Mansel Primary pupil Billy Wright visits Santa Claus at the Christmas Eve Eve party

Nearby schools such as Yewlands Academy joined both Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United to donate gifts with food being kindly donated by the school catering suppliers free of charge.

Christmas Eve Eve party at Mansell Primary School. Ava Wagland and mum Emma decorate Christmas baubles.