Brixton charity worker collects thousands of Christmas gift shoeboxes for women in refuges

A Brixton woman has helped to deliver hundreds of shoeboxes filled with gifts to women staying in domestic violence refuges this Christmas.

Claire Linacre is a volunteer for charity Project Shoebox which provides refuges with shoeboxes including cosmetics and toiletries.

Women and children often arrive at refuges with little more than the clothes on their backs and Claire was determined to brighten up their Christmas.

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She said: “Christmas is obviously about much more than presents, but it is something you would miss if you didn’t have anything to open.”

Claire also writes a Christmas card to the recipient of every box, because it is likely to be the only one they will receive this year.

She offered to process shoebox donations at her house this year and her living room soon became south west London’s version of Santa’s workshop.

Tiptoeing between piles of shoeboxes looking for a space to sit, she told me that the number people donating shoeboxes had increased dramatically.

Claire said: “Last year there were over 1,000 shoeboxes sorted.

“I think we are going to smash that this year and I can see this as the sort of thing that is going to continue to grow.”

Luckily Claire was able to recruit her housemates as Santa’s elves for a helping hand.

Kate Kenyon, the founder, said: “It’s all done local-to-local – I have found that folks do want to help their local community more than ever, and it also helps us with the logistics of getting boxes stored and delivered.”

The charity is almost growing too quickly for them to manage but Kate told me they were aiming to make 3,000 this year.

“It’ll be hard, but we’re game to try,” she said.

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