This campaign began nine years ago with one tree outside New Scotland Yard being decorated with gift tags which provided information on how to buy a present for a child in care. The public were encouraged to take a tag and buy a present, which they then handed in to their local Met police station. Officers then ensured the presents were distributed to children across the capital.
This year, due to Covid-19, we are taking a different approach to help keep everyone safe, while still making sure children who may otherwise not receive a gift have something to open for Christmas.
As such, the appeal has become completely virtual with all presents available to purchase through the Met Police website.
Monetary donations can also be made via the same link, and the funds raised used to purchase further presents.
When the campaign closes on Wednesday, 16 December, all of the presents purchased online will be delivered by colleagues from London’s local authorities to children aged from one-week to 17-years-old across all London boroughs. The children are currently being cared for by foster parents, in residential care homes, refuges, hospitals, or are children from low-income families.
All gifts will be delivered to the children before Christmas Day.
Keeping in line with tradition, children from all around London were encouraged to submit a Christmas themed poster that would then be used for the 2020 Christmas Tree Appeal. The Met’s Commissioner Cressida Dick picked a winner and two finalists – they are:
– Hashim Choudry, aged 10 (winner);
– Joseph Callaghan, aged 10 (finalist);
– Rafael Moniz, aged 7 (finalist).
The Commissioner will host a virtual call with the winner and finalists on the Tuesday, 24 November – the same day that the Christmas tree lights outside of New Scotland Yard are due to be turned on.
The Commissioner said: “Our annual Christmas Tree Appeal brings out the very best in our communities, who pull together to make sure that disadvantaged children from across the Capital still receive gifts this Christmas.
“Due to the Coronavirus pandemic we are not able to celebrate all together as we usually would, but that doesn’t mean we should down tools. In fact, it is more important than ever to look after the most vulnerable in our communities, and I am sure Londoners will continue to support this fantastic campaign, which matters even more this year.”
Lawrence Guinness, Chief Executive of the Childhood Trust, added: “This Christmas, more than ever before, children living in poverty need our help and support. With so many families stretched to breaking point there are so many children not looking forward to Christmas because of poverty. We hope that Londoners will reach out to children in need by gifting a present or donation so that together, with the Metropolitan Police Service, we can bring joy to thousands of vulnerable and disadvantaged children across London this Christmas.”
Over the years the campaign has gone from strength to strength and thanks to the generosity of Londoners, last year the campaign saw over 22,000 presents delivered, ready for Christmas morning.