Over half a billion charity Christmas cards are sent in the UK each year. In 2014 Perennial received £110,000 from sales of their cards through Cards for Good Causes pop-up shops, the primary retail outlet for its range of Christmas cards, making it an important source of income for the charity. A selection of ‘Gifts that Transform Lives’ can be purchased to immediately help those in most need of support including buying a child a Christmas present, purchasing a ‘keep warm pack’ and making a donation to cover a month’s fuel costs for a family in crisis.
HTA chief executive and perennial trustee Carol Paris said: "Not only is Perennial offering a lovely selection of gifts and cards for gardeners and those who love the countryside this year, but we are also offering a corporate over-printing service. Companies who choose to support Perennial this Christmas can order cards in bulk and have them printed with their company logo and a personal message. We hope this will encourage many more people to support the only charity helping all horticulturists from every sector of the industry when times get tough."
At the recent HTA Garden Futures Conference, weatherman Bill Giles OBE predicted that due to the effect of the strong El Niño, we should expect November and December to be mild but stormy and January and February to be exceptionally cold.
Perennial sees an annual uplift in calls from those struggling to make ends meet during the winter, particularly the self-employed, whose wages are seasonal, and the elderly. The charity would like to appeal to everyone working in the sector to help spread the word about its services.
Perennial director of services Sheila Thomson said:"While forecasters are busy trying to predict the weather, we are focused on ensuring our clients are warm and well-fed this winter. We are keen to hear about anyone who feels unable to keep themselves safe this winter and are ready for increased numbers of calls from people who need our help."
Perennial has issued a case study on the effects of cold winters on horticulturists:
"During the last very cold UK winter in 2009/10 we were contacted by Mark, a tree surgeon who was worried about his family’s welfare. His wages had remained static for over a year but fuel prices were soaring and Mark was struggling to keep his wife and children warm. They were regularly waking up to ice on the inside of their cottage windows and the family were wearing as many layers as possible in an attempt to stay warm. A Perennial caseworker visited the family home, identified the cottage had space for a wood burner and arranged for quick installation, safeguarding Mark’s family for many winters to come.
"Perennial helps hundreds of families like Mark’s each year, providing bespoke solutions to clients until they are back on their feet. Help is provided by trained caseworkers in confidence and is completely free. Perennial’s services are often described as a ‘lifeline’. Many people don’t have enough money to cover their heating and food costs and caseworkers regularly see families with young children worried about Christmas. Here is how one client described the help they received over winter,
"Perennial lifted the burden of going into debt while benefits were sorted out, and we also had a grant to buy coal and a Christmas payment. We have stayed warm over the winter and having good food and a good Christmas has lifted our morale."