Christmas toy appeal launched for Hackney’s poorest children

Basil and Jenna Fansa with two other volunteers Pic: London Buyers Club

Thousands of toys are expected to be donated to deprived children in Hackney in the fifth year of the Winter Toy Appeal, a campaign organised by parents in the borough.

Launched by The Local Buyers Club, a website which helps consumers discover independent local businesses, the appeal seeks donated new toys for children up to 16.

The toys will be distributed to children from all faiths and cultures in Hackney and neighbouring Islington. The appeal also asks for food donations, which will also be given to local families.

It is co-ordinated by Jenna and Basil Fansa,  a Stoke Newington couple who run the Local Buyers Club and founded the appeal five years ago.

They received more than 4,000 toys in 2017 and are hoping to receive over 5,000 this year.

Winter toy volunteers Pic: London Buyers Club

Jenna Fansa said: “We’re hearing of families living in one room in cold, damp conditions and of parents struggling to feed their children. The Winter Toy and Food Appeal is a way for the wider community to show they care, to ensure families have enough to eat at Christmas and to make sure every child has a special gift to open”.

After the toys are received they are distributed through the Ivy Street Family Centre in Hoxton, a community of social workers, refuges, schools, children’s centres and hospitals.

Clare Reay, manager of the Ivy Centre, told EastLondonLines: “What we know from running the toy appeal for the last few years is that we aren’t providing a top-up to a child’s Christmas; in many cases the toy a child receives from this appeal is the only gift they will receive.”

Hackney is the third highest borough in London suffering from poverty, according to Trust for London. Around 36 per cent of Hackney’s population are currently living in poverty,  well above the 27 per cent average for London.

Jenna and Basil Fansa with donations Pic: London Buyers Club

It is also fourth for child poverty out of the 32 London boroughs.

Reay continued: “The children may well believe that their gift comes from Father Christmas, but it’s equally important for us to show their parents and carers that their community cares about them”.

This year, they are accepting collections through an online Wishlist to make donating even easier.

Jenna Fansa concluded: “We urgently need more donations of new toys if we’re to make sure no child goes without this Christmas and we’d love to hear from businesses who may be willing to support the appeal.”

Donations can be dropped at local businesses such as Askew Eyewear, Dalston’s Hackney Pirates and L’Epicerie 56 on Chatsworth Road. The collection only accepts new toys.

The Local Buyers Club was set up by the parent-led community Stokey Parents, who are motivated to “make life better in Hackney and beyond”.

They are also working with estate agents Location, Location who have just been given over 100 children’s books from Bloomsbury Publishers for the appeal.

You can follow the appeal’s progress on Twitter by using the hashtag #WinterToyAppeal.

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