If you’re wondering why there’s a Christmas tree dressed in Crystal Palace FC colours outside Croydon police station…..Croydon’s FJC team has been working with Croydon Police to bring Christmas cheer to families who have experienced domestic abuse.

The FJC (formerly Family Justice Centre) service works to keep the community safe from this crime, and today (Friday 20) the Met’s new Croydon youth engagement team delivered sacks of presents to those in need at the support centre.

The service turned its crèche into a grotto, while police, dressed as Santa and elves, delivered children’s presents and served parents mince pies at the pop-up Christmas party.

The gifts came from the Met Police Christmas Tree Appeal, a London-wide project that ensures thousands of children across London get gifts they would otherwise not have received.

Croydon Police have been planning the project since October and hundreds of gifts have been donated by the public. Palace for Life* also supported the project by donating a 12-foot Christmas tree, dressed in Palace colours, that is standing outside Croydon police station.

Gifts were also given from Centrale and Whitgift’s Giving Trees, where people have been leaving gifts since mid-November and will continue to do so until December 22. These gifts have been donated to the Met Christmas Tree project and will be distributed to the charities involved.

General Manager for Centrale shopping centre, David Ordman said “We are delighted with the generosity the Croydon community have shown this year, so far we have had over 500 presents donated to our centres for children of all ages. Now in its sixth year, we are thrilled to still be able to work with the police in helping those less fortunate”.

Cllr Hamida Ali, cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities, said: “This shows how generous our borough is, as our FJC service users are among many to benefit from these presents. “Our social service teams are receiving 16 sacks of gifts, along with another 32 sacks which will be given to local charities.

“Those benefiting will include Red Gates School, Croydon Vision, Growbaby, Croydon University Hospital (CUH) children’s ward, Urban Expression, Christian Family Concern and local refuges.”

The gifts were packed by Croydon Police’s youth engagement team, along with volunteers from the police cadets. The youth team then delivered sacks of presents to Birdhurst Children’s Centre, Croydon’s Turnaround Centre, Winterbourne Children’s Centre and New Addington Baptist Church on behalf of the FJC.

The FJC party was one of three held across the borough, with the engagement team’s Santa and elves visiting the CUH children’s ward on Tuesday and Red Gates School on Thursday.

*The Palace for Life Foundation is the official charity of Crystal Palace FC which has been working with the south London community for over 25 years. Their website states: “We use the power of football and the Palace brand to change the lives of young people across south London, particularly the most hard-to-reach and hard-to-help. “We work with over 13,000 people each year, inspiring them to find a better path and to lead a healthier life.”

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