Shelter’s Social Media Santa and How to Become One

Christmas is often seen as a holiday for spending time with family, having fun and giving out gifts, but what if you’re homeless?

With over 6,000 children in Scotland set to spend this Christmas in temporary accommodation Shelter’s Social Media Santa aims to bring a little bit of happiness and normality to their lives.

Rachel Ryan, Marketing Officer at Shelter Scotland said: “A lot of the families that our teams work with will be spending Christmas in temporary accommodation, or in insecure housing.

“Some parents are struggling with rent arrears, or have been hit by the benefit cap, and some are undergoing benefit sanctions – all of which mean it can be difficult for them to afford new presents for their children.

“Social Media Santa means that the children don’t go without on Christmas morning.”

Social Media Santa has grown significantly over the last five years that it has been running.

Originally created in 2012 by Ross McCulloch, Director of Third Sector Lab the programme gave presents to families who were supported by Shelter’s South Lanarkshire Support Service however they now distribute gifts to more than 200 children throughout the country.

It’s easy to be a Social Media Santa; simply purchase a gift for a child and either drop it off or send it to Shelter’s Community Hub in Edinburgh.

You’re encouraged to share a picture of your gift or share one of Shelter’s social media graphics on Twitter with the hashtag #socialmediasanta.


SMS drawing

A thank you drawing created by a boy from South Lanarkshire whose family are supported by Shelter

Ms Ryan added: “We get gifts for all age groups, but people mostly seem to like to buy from children aged 3-10.

“This can mean that sometimes we have more presents suitable for that age group, and fewer for infants and teenagers, but we’ll happily accept presents for any age.

“All we ask our Services teams for is a list of ages/genders so that we can distribute the gifts appropriately, so the children themselves aren’t asked for what they want specifically, but sometimes the parents will let us know if there’s something that their child really likes, and we try to match the gifts as best we can – Lego is always popular!”

To become a Social Media Santa simply add a gift for a child to your Christmas shopping and then send or drop off unwrapped gifts to:

Shelter Scotland
Scotiabank House
6 South Charlotte Street

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