Children and young people in-need across the county will benefit from the county council’s annual Christmas present appeal – which was launched this week.

Now in its fourth year, the campaign encourages staff and councillors across Bucks County Council (BCC) to donate presents for hundreds of children in care in the county.

Gifts are also given to homeless people living in refuge centres and young people who are in the process of leaving care, according to county councillor Paul Irwin.

He added the campaign does not just benefit people in need, but also “puts a smile on the face” of hard-working social workers who work tirelessly throughout the year to support vulnerable children.

Cllr Irwin said he came up with the idea for the appeal around three years ago, when he was invited to a Salvation Army Christmas service, and was blown away by people’s generosity.

It also fell at the time BCC froze all “non-essential spending” amid fears the annual budget would be overspent be millions, leaving staff feeling down.

However launching the present appeal boosted morale as staff donated hundreds of presents to people in need across the county.

Cllr Irwin said: “We went to a family service at the Salvation Army and we were really touched by it.

“When I saw their generosity I was a little bit embarrassed. I thought why are these people getting presents for our looked after children and we are not doing anything about it?

“It was around the time we had a budget freeze, and staff were really down, so I asked if people would be interesting in doing a Christmas gift appeal.

“It completely changed everyone, staff were then bringing presents left right and centre and I was getting smiles and ‘thank you’ from people I didn’t even know.”

This year’s appeal is being supported by the congregation of Aylesbury’s Salvation Army Church, as well as a number of other organisations and businesses.

Cllr Irwin added: “I’m so thrilled that we are running the appeal again – it’s honestly one of the best things I get to do all year.

“I know how much everyone at the council wants to help local vulnerable children and young people, and I’ve seen for myself what a difference it makes to so many families.

“The response from local organisations and businesses has been overwhelming and we would like to thank them all for the help and support they have given us.”

Cabinet member for children ‘s services, Warren Whyte, added: “It’s fantastic to know that at such a hectic time of year, our staff and councillors pull together to help make other families’ Christmas that little bit better.

“Thank you in advance to everyone who brings in a present; it will really make a big difference to the children and young people we work with.”