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WHY CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT COMMUNITY

Christmas is a time of togetherness for families, but it’s important to remember the people in our community who are in need of our support, says Mark Simms, CEO of the Rugby Portobello Trust

Notting Hill and Holland Park have some of the most expensive houses and wealthiest families in the country, but they are also home to hundreds of less fortunate families and communities who need more support than the government can provide alone. The Rugby Portobello Trust, which dates back to 1884, helps young people from all backgrounds who may not have had an opportunity to try out new sports, experiment with art or music or engage with like-minded young people.

We offer services to help young people become active members of society, make intelligent decisions to better their futures, and teach them the skills they need to protect themselves: support could range from helping a young child learning to read, to helping a young person recently released from prison into secured housing and onto training or employment opportunities. We offer a holistic approach in all of our services and support young people from birth – through our Magic Mums club – right through to early adulthood.

Mark Simms

Mark Simms, CEO of the Rugby Portobello Trust

Our support is vital at Christmas, a time of year when a lot of local community members may not have good relationships with their families, or the money to celebrate Christmas in the traditional way. We try to help by giving gifts – many of them donated – to our young people in hostels and hosting a meal for all of the residents. We also hold Christmas celebrations for our Homework Clubs and have a Christmas lunch with our 20 school students.

Funding has been cut for youth services like ours all across the country, leading to the closure of 350 youth clubs, leaving thousands of young people without a safe place to go to in the evening and with little exposure to positive influences. Every year we have had to make up a gap in statutory funding, but this year the gap is even greater, meaning that our fundraising is more important than ever.

Every year we host the RPT Christmas Market, now in its 25th year, where we invite stallholders, many local and bespoke, to exhibit with us, offering anything from a cashmere shawl for mum to a Christmas pie for grandma. All of the money raised from fundraising events like these feeds back into running services that we know benefit young people.

If you’re interested in supporting us at any of our events, please get in touch.

Mark Simms is CEO of the Rugby Portobello Trust, 221 Walmer Road W11 4EY. To learn more, including info about the RPT Christmas Market, contact erin.coburn@rpt.org.uk; rugbyportobello.org.uk

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