A FIRM of solicitors in Birkenhead has played Santa Claus to help give needy families in the town a happier Christmas.

Forster Dean, based in The Grange and Pyramids Shopping Centre, dug deep into their resources to fill eight big hampers with basic food supplies such as tea, sugar and tinned foods.

And the Salvation Army team who will distribute them says they could not have come at a better time with the festive season looming and a number of families feeling the pinch.

The hampers were picked up from Forster Dean’s Milton Pavement offices by Barbara and Robin Wray of the Salvation Army’s Birkenhead Corps.

They will be handed out to the most deserving families in the two on the two days before Christmas.

According to the Wrays, who have both been with the Salvation Army for the past 40 years, the hampers are very much needed by a number of families in the area covered by their corps.

Robin, 71, who plays in the popular Salvation Army band, said: "Some families we know have absolutely nothing.

"I recently went into one home and they had a Christmas tree made out of old newspapers, which shows that despite having no money they were trying to do their best for their children over the festive season.

"These hampers are a magnificent gesture by Forster Dean and we are very grateful for them.

"They will help to make Christmas a bit more enjoyable to the people who receive them."

Robin’s 70-year-old wife Barbara, who is the Salvation Army’s Birkenhead corps secretary, said: "Social services supply us with a list of the very poorest and needy families in the area, so we will now make sure these fantastic hampers go out to them.

"They will provide people who need them with a marvellous boost and we thank Forster Dean very much for what they have done.

"Some of the poorest are actually working families who have nothing left over after paying their mortgage and other bills, and there’s certainly very little for food."

Forster Dean's office manager and solicitor Mofozzul Hussain said: "An increasing number of people are struggling to pay bills and put food on the table.

"It's not only unemployed people who are affected but also families on low incomes.

"We feel donating food items is a great way of helping out the community and can make a huge difference to a family.

"We care about our community and we care about our clients.

"Rather than being a faceless firm we want to get involved in our local community, and that means supporting local groups and charities."

Derek Millar, commercial director for The Grange and Pyramids Shopping Centre, said: "This is a very generous gesture by Mofozzul and his colleagues to help out families in our community who are facing some really bleak times.

"The Grange and Pyramids Shopping Centre is at the heart of Birkenhead and it is very touching to see work like this going on among our tenants to reach out and help those less fortunate. We all know it is what Christmas is all about."

Mofozzul Hussain added: "We are happy to be donating Christmas hampers to the Salvation Army.

"This year we have also sponsored a local football team, held a raffle to raise funds for local charity Stick'n'Step, which supports children with cerebral palsy, and we are also involved with Mission Christmas, helping to raise cash and collect gifts for local children.

"We are trying to build a relationship with our clients that lasts beyond the transactions we have with them."