Charity to miss out on £40,000 as it cancels Christmas street collection

A city charity stands to lose out on tens of thousands of pounds after having to cancel its annual Christmas street collection for the first time in 30 years.

St Martins, which does crucial work helping homeless people find their way back into stable accommodation, makes around £36,000 each year through the collection, thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers.

However, with many of these collectors vulnerable or elderly, the Norwich-based charity has made the difficult decision to call off this year’s collection.

It will be the first time in 30 years that it has not held the annual fundraising campaign and will see the organisation facing a significant hole in its finances.

Helen Baldry, communications manager at St Martins, said: “We have held street collections for 25 years and they provide such a crucial part of our funds, but with the pandemic it just does not feel right to be doing it.

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“Generally we raise can raise up to £36,000 each year which is a huge amount to be missing out on, but some of our volunteers are high risk and we just can’t put their health in jeopardy.”

Last Christmas, the street collection raised a record total £39,802, but Mrs Baldry admitted it would be difficult to envisage how it could return for Christmas 2021, with the changes in fundraising culture brought about by the pandemic.

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She said: “The pandemic has changed so much. People aren’t carrying cash as much so it makes street collections so much harder.

“It’s going to be a big blow for us as over the years people have been growing accustomed to seeing the same volunteers in the same place and recognising them as being from St Martins.”

St Martins is a key organisation in Norwich’s response to rough sleeping, playing a key role in the Pathways scheme - a multi-organisation partnership run in conjunction with Norwich City Council.

Since the beginning of lockdown, 100 people were found emergency accommodation with the help of St Martins, and have since all been found permanent residence.

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