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Would You Like to Bring a Smile to The Face of a Homeless Young Person This Christmas?

25th November 2020

YMCA DownsLink Group have launched their 2020 Christmas campaign; Love in a Box, but this time it’s digital!

Did you know that YMCA DownsLink Group are the biggest provider of supported housing to vulnerable young people in the Sussex and Surrey? Every night they provide a safe home to 763 young people (16-25) at risk of homelessness, and, of those, nearly 30% are care leavers, some as young as 16. This year more than ever they need your help. After such a tough year, they want everyone living in their 24-hour supported accommodation to receive a personal present, so they feel the love and care many of us, with supportive families, take for granted.

However, this year, rather than filling shoeboxes with gifts, the charity are asking people to buy ‘virtual gifts’ and donate online, via their Love in a Box gift campaign, so that their Key Workers can buy personalised presents for the young people they look after.

There are two main reasons for the change. Firstly, Covid-19 has meant that it is logistically difficult to receive and distribute physical boxes in a safe way. Secondly, Key Workers in YMCA DownsLink Group 24-hour supported accommodation, get to know the young people who live with them really well, in some cases they’re more like surrogate family. So, buying a virtual gift means they can buy something thoughtful and personal that really lets the young person know that they are cared for. It could be something to help them pursue a passion or hobby, or something they desperately need; a decent coat, warm jumper or new trainers.

Bill, young man living in 24-hour supported accommodation, explains what a difference YMCA DownsLink Group’s Key Workers make to him:

“My favourite thing about living at the YMCA is feeling safe and protected. The staff have had a big impact on me, and I’ve had some really good support from them. They have been patient and accepting of me and my “luggage” (which is a lot less now )”

Leaha, a young woman living with YMCA DownsLink Group, had a passion for football and wanted to play in an international tournament. Thanks to generous donations, she was bought a pair of football boots and fulfilled her dream. Anyone can buy a virtual gift or donate via You can also buy a gift on behalf of someone else, so it’s a great option for a secret Santa gift, which are notoriously difficult to get right (and probably end up in landfill). It is also possible to specify which area within Sussex and Surrey you would like your money to go to so that you can rest assured that you are really helping a vulnerable young person living close to you. To find out more visit

Get involved here.