SOME brand new toys were collected by
Lichfield Cathedral last year during their St
Nicholas service, held at the West Front. This year, the service
will be on 9 December, and they are hoping for an even more
generous response. All the toys will be given to the Pathway
Project for children in need, particularly those from an abusive
home who have escaped to a refuge.
"There can be no sadder time for
families to have to leave their homes, their friends, and all their
belongings, than at Christmas," the director of the Pathway
Project, Kathy Coe, says. "Seeing your children suffer is truly
heart-rending. You would think that the refuges would be really sad
places, but they are filled with hope at this time of year.
"When the gifts begin arriving, and
the worry and concern of mums trying to find ways to get something
for their children is taken away, it is wonderful to watch them
relax and begin to feel safe and at home with us."
The Pathway Project was set up more
than 20 years ago by Ms Coe, who, with her children, had been
living in an atmosphere of constant abuse. She eventually escaped,
but found it so difficult to get long-term help that she
determined, once resettled in safety, to do all that she could to
help women who were suffering in the same way.
Since 1993, the project has helped
thousands of women, providing accommodation, counselling, and
support. They have a drop-in and outreach centre in Lichfield, and
there is also a 24-hour helpline. "In the spirit of St Nicholas,"
the Dean, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, says, "the cathedral wants
to ensure that very vulnerable children can experience some of the
joy and delight of Christmas."