Winter toy appeal responds to devastating poverty


​“Please buy a toy for a child in Hackney who would otherwise go without this winter.”

That’s the plea from the organiser of an annual toy appeal as the rising cost of living and welfare cuts and sanctions hit the most vulnerable hard.

It’s the fourth year that family website StokeyParents has run the Winter Toy and Food Appeal – last year more than 2,000 children received a gift and hundreds of meals were donated to Hackney Food Bank.

The appeal is sponsored by local estate agency Location Location on Stoke Newington Church Street, which also provides a place to donate and The Local Buyers Club, a newly-launched discount card in North of East London is also getting behind the appeal.

Organiser Jenna Fansa said: “It’s a sad sign of the times that more and more families are struggling to make ends meet. We’re hearing about families of four living in one room in terrible damp conditions and without enough food, we’re hearing of families who have no access to public funds and those fleeing domestic violence with only the clothes on their back.

“Each year an amazing network of staff at local organisations put together a list of the children they work with who are experiencing desperate poverty and these are the children our toys reach.”

Toys are distributed by the Ivy Street Family Centre in Hoxton via an expanding network of social workers, refuges, hostels, children’s centres, schools, Hackney Food Bank, St Joseph’s Hospice and the Homerton Hospital.

Jenna added: “Every year I’m moved to tears by the generosity of local people gifts for people in their community they’ve never even met. It’s a very real demonstration to those experiencing hard times that people care about them and want to help.”

According to data released by Public Health England last year, more than a quarter of Hackney’s children (an estimated 15,000 aged under 16) live below the poverty line.

Clare Reay, Acting Manager of the Ivy Street Family Centre, which coordinates the gift distribution, said: “We regularly see parents who can't afford to eat - they certainly couldn't buy a gift for their children at Christmas. Thanks to the Winter Toy & Food Appeal those families have a gift to give and their children have the pleasure of opening something new.

"We and the families we support are always incredibly moved by the kindness of strangers."

Gifts can be donated at Location Location (18 Stoke Newington Church Street) or via the following Amazon Wish List: www.toyappealwishlist.com

For more information visit www.wintertoyappeal.com

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