'We wanted to give people a positive message' - Volunteers hide hundreds of handmade Christmas angels around Wakefield estates
A team of volunteers who have distributed hundreds of handcrafted angels across Wakefield say they have been blown away by the response of their community.
More than 1,000 of the angels have appeared in the south of the city in recent weeks, hanging from trees and carrying notecards bearing messages of joy and hope.
They were found and collected by hundreds of members of the public, and many took to social media to find out where the angels had come from.
But the team behind the gifts, known affectionately as Advent Angels, have admitted they were not expecting the emotional responses the angels elicited.
Reverend Rob Cotton, from Sandal Methodist Church, said he had been overwhelmed with messages in the days after the first angels were distributed.
He said: “We’re getting some great feedback from the angels, especially on social media. Children are loving them.
“We’ve had a couple of really quite moving responses. A lady died one day and we delivered an angel to her daughter a few days later. The children had found it quite a comfort. We didn’t anticipate how it was going to impact on people really.
“Someone said her mum recently gained her angel wings and we brought an angel in her memory.”
More than 50 volunteers helped to create the angels in the run up to the festive season, which were collected at the church and then hung across Sandal, Newmillerdam, Crigglestone and Walton in the early hours of the morning.
Each angel was attached to a note card bearing messages of hope and joy.
Rev Rob said: “We’d been talking as a team and we wanted to do something that was positive and we’d heard that this had been done in other areas. We thought that would be a good way of getting out to people where they are and giving a positive message.
“And the other thing is that a lot of our older church members it has really given them a focus over the last couple of months.
“It has been really positive in that sense as well, even people who are socially isolated or on their own. This year everyone wants to feel that they can make their contribution, and this is some small thing that we can do.
“It’s positive and doesn’t have any real agenda other than giving people a positive message.”
Reverend Rob has only been in his position at Sandal Methodist Church since August, but has wasted no time in getting involved in the local community.
As well as the Advent Angels campaign, he has helped to organise a goody bag giveaway for local children and families, and supported the slow return of services and family groups in the wake of the pandemic.
He said: “It’s a challenging time to arrive in a new place because you can’t function in a normal way. Things like the angels are a way of communicating, because there are things I’d like to do but can’t.
“You can’t do coffee mornings or gather for a conversation, it’s a really strange and weird time to be moving and try to get to know anyone.”