Support for a Norfolk homeless foundation was again in full force throughout the Diss Express area in 2015, after a record haul of more than £30,000 was presented to the trust last weekend.
Fundraisers involved in collecting £30,241.48 over the course of the past year gathered at the Church of All Saints in Old Buckenham on Saturday, where they handed over the cheques to St Martins Housing Trust, a charity that provides accommodation, residential care, support and developmental help for people in the region with no place to sleep.
It is the area’s biggest ever total in 15 years of fundraising for St Martins, and will be used to expand the Norwich Night Shelter, providing at least five additional beds.
Michael Bartlett, 80, one of the fundraisers, said he was particularly impressed by a collection in Diss on Christmas Eve that netted more than £800 in just five hours.
“It’s the support that Diss has given which probably stands out the most. It was a fantastic turnout,” Mr Bartlett told the Diss Express.
“Christmas Eve is not an easy time to get volunteers, and if someone told me before hand they would start at 9am and come back at 2pm with £844, I would have laughed.”
The bulk of the £30,000 total was gathered via community donations, a series of supermarket and office collections, and a small legacy fund.
Furthermore, the Old Buckenham 2000 Trust raised £1,100 via a Father Christmas visit to the Attleborough Sainsbury’s store, while a concert by the Liquorice Allsorts Wind Quartet earned over £1,000 and a collection during Old Buckenham All Saints Church’s candlelit Christmas Carol service brought in £510.
Mr Bartlett, a former Old Buckenham Village Hall committee member, stated some donors told him St Martins was the only charity they supported, because they “can’t sleep easy” knowing others are sleeping on the streets.
“I think people are very conscious in the winter months there are people less fortunate than them,” he said.
“Homelessness is much better looked after in Norfolk than most places. The biggest problem is the number of people found with mental illness.”
To find out more about St Martins Housing Trust, please visit www.stmartinshousing.org.uk