NSPCC's Festival of Trees takes centre stage to help city's children 

    Children's charity's annual Christmas fundraiser returns for 23rd year

    The NSPCC's annual Festival of Trees event is set to return to the city this week, as local businesses do their bit to help keep local children safe. 

    Every year the Theatre Royal Plymouth is adorned in Christmas trees and garlands that are thoughtfully decorated, and kindly sponsored, by local businesses, schools and individuals. 

    Now in its 23rd year, the children's charity's Festival of Trees event has raised more than £200,000 to help fund NSPCC services that protect children and prevent abuse.

    In Plymouth, NSPCC services include Letting the Future In, which helps children who have been sexually abused to rebuild their lives, and a preventative programme called Turn the Page that works with children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviour. 

    The children's charity is also heavily involved in the Together for Childhood partnership programme that aims to prevent child sexual abuse in the city. 

    More than 25 Christmas trees and garlands will be on display at the Theatre Royal Plymouth throughout the Christmas period, providing a vision of festivity for visitors and passers-by. 

    A 'decorating party' will be held today (Wednesday 13 November), which will see volunteers, school children, and local sponsors create their visionary masterpieces. 

    Community Fundraising Manager for Plymouth, Alison Armer, said: "This is always a really exciting time for us as we launch our Festival of Trees at the Theatre Royal Plymouth, and serves as an important reminder that not all children will enjoy the Christmas period. 

    "1 in 5 children in the UK suffer abuse, and every year, specially-trained counsellors from our Childline service answer calls from children. 

    "It's why we are so thankful to all of the sponsors taking part in the event this year, because without people helping to fund the NSPCC we simply wouldn't be able to help as many children as we do." 

    A 'tree party' will follow next month, when the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, Councillor Richard Ball and Mrs Dianne Ball, will judge which Christmas tree will be crowned the 'best decorated'.

    Last year, in a closely contested battle, David May Motor Services took the honour. The company will be returning this year to defend its title.  

    Alison added: "The trees always look spectacular, which is why judging them can be so hard for the Lord Mayor. 

    "We're anticipating it to be just as fantastic this year, so I'd encourage anyone keen to get into the festive mood to pop into the theatre during the Christmas period."

    It's hoped more than £10,000 will be raised towards the charity's Christmas Appeal, which aims to shine a light on neglect through 'Light for Every Childhood'. 

    Landmarks across the country will light up green in support of the campaign and to raise awareness of the 'Get Your Sparkle On' fundraising event on and around December 11 that members of the public can get involved in with their friends, family or work colleagues.

    A £3 donation is enough to fund the charity's School Service to reach another child and help keep them safe from abuse and neglect. It's a service offered free to all primary schools in the UK. In the last academic year 24 primary schools in the city hosted Speak Out Stay Safe assemblies, which taught almost 6,000 children about the different kinds of abuse and how to identify trusted adults they can speak to if they have a worry or a concern. 

    There are still trees and garlands available to sponsor any anyone wanting to find out more about how to get involved can contact Alison Armer via Alison.Armer@nspcc.org.uk or 07779341767.

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