Oldham College and Willmott Dixon help make Christmas special for young people impacted by Covid-19 

OLDHAM College and Willmott Dixon have teamed up to bring Christmas cheer to 200 local young people who have been adversely affected by COVID-19.

The joint campaign has seen several thousands of pounds’ worth of items donated or funded in just a matter of days – and produced a huge hoard of morale-boosting goodies. 

Some of the gifts ready for distribution

Oldham College and Willmott Dixon worked with Mahdlo Youth Zone and First Choice Homes Oldham (FCHO) to identify local young people who are NEET – not in education, employment or training – and who have been hit hard by recent events.

It is easy to forget how the pandemic has changed everything for so many young people aged between 16-20 during 2020.

Some had left school and were already struggling to find work before coronavirus hit while others have seen their family lives suffer due to factors like unemployment, debt or bereavement.

Willmott Dixon, the UK’s leading independent construction and property services company, are currently building Oldham College’s state-of-the-art new Construction Centre, due to open in summer 2021.

Local employers in the supply chain for that project – plus some of Oldham College’s #AmazingApprenticeships employers, including hair and beauty salons – were contacted for help.

The result is an enormous haul of 200 gift bags – each containing around £30 of items like toiletries, phone chargers, headphones, scarves, gloves, make-up, aftershave and more – all to help brighten the festive period.

Alun Francis, Oldham College’s Principal and Chief Executive, said: “This has been an exceptionally tough year and although it’s right and natural to think about the impact on older and vulnerable people there has also been a harsh impact on our younger generations.”

“Many of these local young people have seen their plans, certainties and prospects turned upside down and their wellbeing should not be forgotten.

“That’s also why, as part of this campaign, all 200 recipients are being offered a free Career Advice session at Oldham College, plus lots of other useful information and contacts, to help them get back on track in 2021.

“This has been a tremendous effort in double quick time with Willmott Dixon, their supply chain and other local employers, and I would like to thank them all for their generosity.

“This proves the real power of partnership working and will really help to make a difference across our borough this Christmas.”

Deliveries to young people began by Father Christmas from Mahdlo and FCHO this week – and the response has blown organisers away.

Early comments included: “This is amazing!” and “This is the best Christmas ever” and another added: “I can’t believe anyone would do this for us – it’s amazing!”.

Anthony Dillon, Managing Director in the North for Willmott Dixon, said: “A huge thank you to everyone who came together to make this campaign possible and a huge success.”

“As a business based in Oldham, we’re committed to transforming lives and strengthening our community.

“Alongside Oldham College and all our friends and partners, we’re proud to be able to make a small difference to the lives of the town’s young people this Christmas.”

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