Toy donations appeal as campaigners warn 200,000 London children may receive no Christmas presents

ELBA Volunteers. Pic: ELBA

Residents have been encouraged to donate what they can to the East London Business Alliance’s “most important toy appeal ever,” at a pop-up in Canary Wharf this Christmas.

ELBA is a registered charity which aims to connect businesses and local communities in East London to address poverty and inequality. Their annual Christmas toy appeal, now in its fourth year, aims to deliver toys to children across east London and Islington who may otherwise not receive one at Christmas.

The appeal is asking for unwrapped toys with a value from £10 to £15. Full guidelines for toys can be found here. Last year, ELBA delivered almost 10,000 toys, but they hope to surpass this number in 2020 as more children are in need now than ever before.

ELBA works with 60 local charities, including community centres, food banks, refugee groups, women’s refuges, schools and nurseries to deliver presents to as many children as possible. Many of the families and children from these groups are fleeing domestic violence, war zones and conflict, living in extreme poverty or temporary accommodation. Others are children caring for older relatives. 

Hestia, one of the charities ELBA works with, said: “A stranger, who the child will never meet, has shown kindness and care, two things that these children have little experience of. A gift given [this] Christmas, will make them start to realise that the world isn’t such a bad place after all. And that is the start to their journey of recovery.”

Trust for London estimates that 57 per cent of children in Tower Hamlets are living in poverty, compared to an average of 38 per cent across the other London boroughs. The effects of COVID-19, including the closures of schools, clubs and centres, a surge in unemployment, and the impact on mental health, has only intensified these inequalities.

While Christmas will serve as a time of joy and distraction from the crisis for many, ELBA believes as many as 200,000 children across east and north London may not receive a Christmas present this year.

Ashley Rice, Programme Manager at ELBA said: “The ELBA Toy Appeal is such an important event for thousands of families. It provides a moment of happiness for children during a difficult year when many families are experiencing hardship.”

Due to ongoing restrictions, ELBA has arranged alternative methods of donating, including fundraising through their JustGivingPage, and shopping from their John Lewis and Amazon Christmas wish lists.

Those wishing to donate in person can find the toy appeal pop-up in Lower Jubilee Mall, Canary Wharf, E14 5NY. The pop-up will run from today until Friday December 18.

From December 18 onwards, volunteers will then choose which children the gifts are most suited for, wrap them and ELBA’s Santa will deliver them to the children in time for Christmas.

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