Community support organisation Secret Santa has been named The Mall Blackburn’s charity of the year for 2021.
The shopping centre has supported Secret Santa for many years and donated a free shop unit in 2019 to give the organisation a high street presence to sell new and preloved items and raise awareness of the amazing work it carries out in Blackburn and beyond.
Since then, the partnership has gone from strength to strength and the charity has expanded from providing Christmas presents to children who would otherwise not receive anything during the festive period to becoming a lifeline for people of all ages and backgrounds.
It now supports families during Eid, distributes Easter eggs, helps with period poverty, sources prom wear for school leavers, brings lonely people together, organises food and meals for those in need and much more.
The Mall Blackburn has this month (July) paid £540 for the Secret Santa’s shop unit to be spruced up with a rebrand and refit of the store signage to bring everything in line with their expanded offering.
In addition, £160 has already been raised through ‘in centre’ activities such as collection points and staff initiatives. The Mall is also donating £3000 of IT equipment to the team.
Phil Boulding, who founded Secret Santa with his wife Karen, said: “It is an absolute honour to be named as The Mall’s charity of the year and we are really excited to take our fantastic relationship with the team even further.
“When we were gifted the unit in 2019 it catapulted us into a new era and since then we have been able to offer a helping hand to thousands of vulnerable people across the borough.
“We are blown away with the new shop signage and donations so far and with the help of everyone at The Mall we are looking forward to reaching more communities in need in the coming weeks and months.”
Loraine Jones, General Manager at The Mall Blackburn, said: “We are absolutely delighted to name Secret Santa as our charity of the year.
“It is our first official charity of the year since before the pandemic started as we have spent the last 18 months helping a whole host of deserving causes.
“We raised more than £5,000 for the Poppy Appeal before the second lockdown in November 2020 and we donated £2,000 to the Blackburn with Darwen Food Resilience Alliance this winter.
“We have been working with Phil and his team at Secret Santa for many years and he has really gone above and beyond to help so many different communities as part of a huge collective local response to Covid-19 – so they thoroughly deserve to be chosen.
“The new store front looks amazing and it is great that they can make use of the IT equipment we have donated.
“Our team is now coming up with exciting ways we can further increase our fundraising for them this year.”
The Secret Santa store is located below the clock tower on King William Street. Donations of new and preloved toys and gifts are welcome in store.