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From Tribune readers, Christmas hampers that say we care

MP helps hand out gifts from Tribune readers that ensure no one misses out on festive cheer

21 December, 2018 — By Emily Finch and Calum Fraser

Antonietta Tempesta, 82, receives a hamper from Laura Edwards, of Angel Central, and Emily Thornberry

THERE were smiles from ear to ear as the Tribune distributed our Christmas hampers at a community centre on Monday.

Readers helped raise hundreds of pounds to bring a little cheer to some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents who may have experienced a tough year.

Islington South MP Emily Thornberry joined us at Ringcross Community Centre, off Caledonian Road, to distribute the goodies, which included brandy-infused cakes and gourmet chutney.

The centre is run by Pilion Trust, which hosts events for young people and the elderly, including weekly luncheons and craft meetings.

Ms Thornberry highlighted how it was “important that people think of the entire community, not just their friends and family” at this time of year.

She said: “Readers responding to the Tribune hamper appeal show what a great place Islington is and how fantastic it is to live here.”

When asked if she was looking forward to the Christmas break, given the uncertainty over Britain exiting the European Union, Ms Thornberry said: “I’m very much hoping we will have a proper break this Christmas.

“Nothing is certain at the moment. As I speak to you now I have no idea what the day holds let alone the week or where we’ll be by the new year.”

She added: “What’s important is that our representatives keep at the forefront of their minds what’s best for the country.”

Antonietta Tempesta, 82, from Drayton Park, said it was a “beautiful morning” after receiving her hamper. “It was very nice to see our MP and it was a nice big present as well,” she said.

Others joined Antonietta with their words of thanks, including Santha Peter, 76, who said: “This has been excellent.

“I got to speak with Emily Thornberry, which was very exciting. Even though she is a right honourable MP she’s so friendly and down to earth.”

Savvas Panas, who runs Pilion Trust, thanked the Tribune and our readers for bringing cheer to his regular luncheon members.

“For this group of people who are lonely and isolated, Christmas is always a hard time. Having the hampers come with so many lovely things just brings back a bit of humanity and the knowledge that they exist and are vital to the community,” he said.

Laura Edwards, from Angel Central, which backed our Hamper Appeal for the third year running, said: “It’s great for Angel Central to contribute to this and support people who might not have luxuries over Christmas.”

Mr Panas is raising money for his Christmas Day lunch, where he brings together youngsters staying at a nearby winter shelter and isolated members of the community.

He needs to raise £700 for the huge feast, which saw 58 people gather at the community centre last year. “There may be many people this year because of universal credit,” he said.

Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/piliontrust

Charlotte stays positive

THE Tribune gave a hamper to Charlotte Jose, above, a mother living in Highbury Quadrant who lost her son Brian this time last year.

We have supported Ms Jose and her family’s campaign to find out more about the circum­stances around her 15-year-old son’s death after playing basketball at the Sobell Centre.

Brian Mpunga was a popular student at St Aloysius’ College, in Archway. A memorial event to mark the first anniversary of the teenager’s death takes place today (Friday).

She said: “I am so happy to get this hamper. I can see people care about me and my family. We are looking forward to next year in a positive way. I hope we can get more answers.”

‘They looked so pleased getting them’

Hampers handed out at Islington Mind in Archway: ‘We’re so grateful’

THERE were a dozen lucky recipients of our hampers at a mental health organisation in the north of the borough.

“They looked so pleased getting them,” said John Coppock, a finance worker at Islington Mind in Archway.

“We are so grateful to the Tribune and their readers,” he added.

Islington Mind helps residents improve their mental health and wellbeing through projects such as counselling and group therapy.

Enablement service manager Ossi Ron said: “Many thanks for your generous Christmas hamper donations to Islington Mind service users.”

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