This Christmas we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of so many wanting to donate a gift or money for a gift to help another family going through hard times. And we helped 1,230 of them – that’s 3,000 children! Whilst donors cannot meet the recipient of their gift and see its impact with their own eyes, some of the 86 ToyLink family referring agencies have told us how much it has helped.
Sabrina Holyhead, GBNFC Children Centre
Our families can be suffering from low income and struggling to budget. Some were swapped over from old-style benefits to a monthly Universal Credit payment. Some are victims of domestic violence and have had to flee from their homes quickly, taking only essential items with them. Some families live with a parent with low mental health issues and some have lost jobs and found themselves under financial strain during COVID-19.
Parents were relieved not to have to think about how they would afford Christmas and have reported that, thanks to ToyLink, they have not had to go into debt.
Sharon Smith, Magnolia House
Our families are homeless for reasons such as domestic abuse or landlords wanting properties back. Wihtout ToyLink, the children would otherwise have had very few or no presents and were all very excited. We would like to say a massive thank you to each and every one of you for your donations and hard work.
Chereene Love, Black Country Women’s Aid
Most of the families we support come to refuge with just the bare essentials and have to rebuild their lives and their possessions. With the financial pressure of having to replace basic items like clothing there isn’t much money left for Christmas presents.
ToyLink helps make Christmas special for those living in our care and the children feel secure in having their own possessions again. It helps them forget about their current situation, even if just for a short while.
Karon Cairns, Home-Start North & Inner City
Many of our families are in temporary or poor accommodation, with very little cooking facilities and take out food the only hot food available. Many have to travel long distances to school, doctor and family which is heavy on their finances. Due to the benefit cap for larger families, food and clothes are the main priority. Toys and treats are difficult to afford and come at a cost.
Debt is a massive problem, particularly for fuel bills. Families can unknowingly use much more in winter months and find they are unable to pay, often going without gas or electricity. We have families who have fled from a domestic violence relationship with minimal possessions. And there are families who are new to this country, over-stayers with no recourse to public funds and asylum seekers. They are living on the goodness of family or friends and often very little.
The need for children of all ages to play, read, have fun and be stimulated is huge. Television is fine for a short time, but many feel they have very little else to entertain the children. After receiving their ToyLink gifts, feedback from families has been overwhelming. Their gratitude and happiness to see their children enjoy playing and having fun is emotional.
Leanne Walsh, Lydia Rogers House
ToyLink has had a huge impact on our homeless families. It has meant they don’t have to worry about Christmas. I am very sure we will have a lot of smiling faces when I give out their presents on Christmas Eve and I cannot thank ToyLink enough.
Lorraine Milton, volunteer at the FaB Pantry
Our families’ situations are varied, some single-parent, with low income or on benefits. All were incredibly grateful to ToyLink as Christmas brings extra stress and financial burdens. This text I received from a family after receiving their gifts is the best way to show you what ToyLink means to them:
‘Thank you from me, my husband and my children who are very overwhelmed with the amount of presents they have received. The best surprise ever!! A lot more than what we expected and certainly what we cannot afford.’
The Oasis Acadamy school where we are based made up some back packs for rough sleepers which we were able to pass on to Steve at the Care Centre. Great to support each other!
Dawn Pulford, Home-Start Birmingham South
Our families have a range of differing needs, such as mental health issues, isolation, domestic abuse, lone parenting and debts issues. Some are finding it difficult to manage children’s behaviour and others have children with disabilities.
The impact of ToyLink is great. That someone is knocking their door and giving presents makes parents feel they are not alone. They feel supported and this is fed down to the children who see mom or dad happier. The wide range of presents is a fantastic bonus to families who struggle to afford such luxuries at any time, but especially at Christmas. Families have called to say that they feel so grateful that someone is thinking of them.
Michelle Gardner, The Oaks Primary School
The families I referred to ToyLink are affected by poverty and I know they will struggle over Christmas. Some are currently in temporary accommodation after fleeing domestic violence and one family has suffered a significant bereavement. Some parents have experienced mental health issues and some of the children are on child protection plans for reasons such as neglect or parental substance misuse.
This year has been a struggle for many and the charities that support them, but I sincerely hope the wonderful work of BCM continues.