Hundreds of children across the UK, in families supported by Home-Start, were given an extra surprise at Christmas when they received gift boxes collected by Openreach.

Teams from Openreach, BT’s local network business, collected an amazing 658 gift boxes which were donated to their local Home-Starts to pass on to children and families.

Families living in Havering in Essex were some of those to benefit.

Lorraine Clear, the manager of Home-Start Havering said “We were thrilled to receive the donation from Openreach as lots of the families we support are barely keeping a roof over their heads and cannot afford the added expense of Christmas. For some, the presents donated will be the only gift their children will receive.”

Darren Gorman an Openreach Operations Manager from Romford, who collected gift boxes for Home-Start Havering, said: “The team at Home-Start Havering were quite overwhelmed when we arrived. The generosity of our local engineers and managers meant that around 200 toys and selection boxes were donated to families in the local area. They couldn’t thank us enough. Helping families in need, especially around Christmas time gave us all an enormous sense of pride.”

Last year Home-Start supported 60,000 children in 30,000 families, in communities across the UK.

Families struggling with post-natal depression, isolation, physical health problems, bereavement and many other issues receive the support of a volunteer who will spend around two hours a week in a family’s home supporting them in the ways they need.

Home-Start UK’s chief executive, Rob Parkinson, said “Christmas can be a very difficult time for many families. The continued support of Openreach teams across the country over many years has made a difference to thousands of children. Thank you to everyone who took part and donated to this appeal and gave their time to put boxes together and deliver them to local Home-Starts. It made sure that children all over the UK had a happier Christmas.”