When she heard that a parent had decided not to tell her children it was Christmas day because she couldn’t afford presents, the headteacher of a Midlands nursery school knew she had to do something to help.

Natalie Showell launched the Christmas in a Box scheme, providing boxes of food treats and gifts, and this year she hopes to help 100 families who might otherwise struggle.

Natalie, aged 36, is the head teacher at Low Hill Nursery, in Jenks Avenue, Wolverhampton. She and her staff had been helping families in the Low Hill area on a small scale for many years, but saw that more support was needed.

In 2020, she officially launched the Every Family Counts charity offering help throughout the year as well as providing extra support at Christmas.

Natalie, a trustee of the charity, said: “Every Family Counts officially became a charity January 2020; however Low Hill Nursery school was supporting families in a holistic way long before this date.

“Staff noticed that there was huge demand on food banks within the city of Wolverhampton. Staff would donate items and support families. Our food bank now supports people with a WV postcode and is open twice a week Wednesday and Thursday.”

She added: “The Christmas in a Box scheme was born when a parent shared that she had made the heartbreaking decision not to tell her children it was going to be Christmas day.

“She thought it would be kinder to the children as she felt she couldn’t give them a Christmas they deserved. This was in 2018 before the charity was established; fast forward three years and we are hoping to help 100 families.

“Last year we helped 73 families. They tell us that they are overwhelmed and grateful to receive items at Christmas as it can be an extremely difficult time of year with lots of pressure.”

Supporters are asked to donate £30 per box. That helps to buy non-perishable food items, treats and small gifts.

A £5 donation will provide a gift box for a child to open on Christmas morning. Non-perishable food items can also be accepted.

The boxes are tailored to the size of the family and the ages of the children.

Natalie said ongoing donations were also being sought for the food bank. In 2021, around 500 food parcels were distributed and in 2022 she hopes to reach even more and expand to offer other services like play therapy.

To find out more about the charity and the Christmas appeal, visit https://www.everyfamilycounts.co.uk/

Donations can be made via Paypal to [email protected]

The charity can be contacted by emailing [email protected] or calling 01902 558124.

Picture caption:

Michelle Dudley, pastoral manager, Sam Woodward, pastoral support worker, and headteacher Natalie Showell