Shoebox charity set up by Wigan medics will provide festive lifeline for vulnerable people

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A Wigan charity set up after successfully supporting a shoebox appeal last year hopes to make a difference for vulnerable people this Christmas.

Dr Emma Thornton and neonatal nurse Claire Hayward, who both work at Wigan Infirmary, created Shoebox Fairies last year to collect for Manchester Street Angels’ Christmas box campaign.

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Wigan medics become Shoebox Fairies to help people this Christmas

During 2021 they have been creating mother and baby boxes for new parents, with essential items such as knitted blankets, hats and baby wash.

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Emma Thornton and Kelly Parkinson from Shoebox FairiesEmma Thornton and Kelly Parkinson from Shoebox Fairies
Emma Thornton and Kelly Parkinson from Shoebox Fairies

And now they are returning to where it all began as they collect shoeboxes full of items to help people at Christmas.

Dr Thornton said: “We have spent the year setting up links with third parties throughout Wigan.

“We are doing the Christmas shoebox appeal independently from the Manchester shoebox appeal, so we have developed our own network of local charities and organisations. It’s more about Wigan people giving back to Wigan residents.”

Their connections mean there are now schools, community groups, businesses and other organisations across the borough putting together shoeboxes filled with gifts.

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While some appeals simply collect for children, the Shoebox Fairies also give boxes to adults, such as vulnerable older people and rough sleepers. Boxes can include all sorts of items, such as toiletries, hats and gloves, toys, candles, make-up and confectionary, depending on who it will given to.

They will be distributed through social workers, services for rough sleepers, Age UK and other organisations.

People across Wigan are being encouraged to get involved to help spread a little joy over the festive period.

This year there is even the option of donating a “virtual” shoebox, where people who do not have the time to collect their own items can donate online.

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To find out more go to or search for Shoebox Fairies on Facebook or Instagram.

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