Hackney Citizen teams up with StokeyParents for this year’s Winter Toy Appeal

Jenna Fansa and her husband Basil surrounded by toys during last year’s appeal. Photograph: StokeyParents

The Hackney Citizen is backing a toy appeal which brings a little bit of festive cheer to thousands of the borough’s poorest children.

Local website StokeyParents is organising its Winter Toy & Food Appeal for the fifth year running – this time alongside its sister site Local Buyer’s Club, which offers discounts at independent shops across north and east London.

The appeal asks people to donate new toys or non-perishable food through an online wishlist or by taking them in person to local drop-off points by 17 December.

Donations are then rounded up and distributed throughout the borough in time for Christmas.

The aim is to ensure every child in Hackney has a special gift to open, and that families in need won’t go hungry.

Last year’s appeal reached more than 4,000 children with the help of social workers, refuges, hostels, children’s centres, schools, hospices, food banks and a migrant centre.

StokeyParents wants to push that figure to over 5,000 in 2018.

According to the latest research by End Child Poverty, a coalition of welfare groups and charities across the UK, 14,362 or 39.8 per cent of children in Hackney North and Stoke Newington live below the poverty line.

In Hackney South and Shoreditch, the number is 11,774 – 43.3 per cent of the children in the constituency.

The appeal’s founder Jenna Fansa said: “We’re thrilled to have the support of such a community-minded newspaper. We desperately need donations of new toys, so we can reach as many children as possible.

“Some families in Hackney are enduring unimaginable hardship – we’re seeing a rise in the number of working poor as wages stagnate and the costs of living soar. Some parents are going hungry so their children can eat.

“Without this appeal, thousands of children simply wouldn’t receive a gift at Christmas.”

Jenna is again running the appeal with the help of Hoxton-based charity Ivy Street Family Centre (ISFC), which oversees the distribution of the toys through its Growbaby scheme – making sure they’re delivered to those most in need.

And this year, for the first time, the appeal will offer Hackney’s schools the opportunity to nominate children who they think are eligible for a gift.

Jenna also says toys “should reach every child in temporary or hostel accommodation”.

ISFC manager Angela Large said: “Every week we are seeing families who are referred by their midwives, social workers, health visitors and food banks or referred to Growbaby for help with their little ones.

“Some have no access to public funds, they live in cramped rooms in a temporary place and they don’t have much at all – certainly nothing nice.

“This winter appeal will remind families in need that they’re cared about and that there’s a supportive community willing to help. It will definitely put some smiles on children’s faces.”

You can donate new toys and non-perishable food during office hours at Location Location estate agency at 18 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0LU.

Location Location will also accept deliveries of toys purchased through the online wishlist, so make a note of the address if you’d like to send any donations there.

​Other drop-off points are at Sandbrook Playgroup at 85 Sandbrook Road, Jane Edwards hair salon on Kynaston Road and Askew Eyewear on the corner of Albion Road and Church Street.

To buy toys online, have a look through the wishlist compiled by ISFC with the help of social workers at toyappealwishlist.com

For more information about the appeal, head to wintertoyappeal.com

Any businesses or schools interested in supporting the appeal can get in touch with Jenna at news@stokeyparents.com

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