Over the Christmas period, Children’s Centres in Wiltshire worked quickly to look for new ways to ensure that local families were supported throughout the festive period. Throughout the year many local families had lost employment and were struggling financially due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. With this in mind, the centres, who would normally have been accepting donations of toys from the community, needed to find a Covid-19 secure way to accept gifts for those in need.
The centres were able to create a digital wishlist to enable donations of toys for children to be given in a Covid-19 secure way, by those who were in a position to provide support, so that toys could be gifted to local families who were struggling.
Our Together for Families service in Wiltshire began with sending these lists to local churches who would normally donate to the services in Wiltshire over this time of year. With many church services being cancelled or collections not taking place it was vital that congregations were made aware of how they could still provide support this year if they wished to.
A list for each of the Wiltshire service areas was created and services were able to populate lists with the items they needed most for families depending on the gaps they had, for example, specific items for 0-2-year-olds.
Additionally, in South Wiltshire, toys were put together with food hampers which had been provided by the Trussell Trust and delivered to up to 30 families by Family Support Workers.
The lists were also shared over Facebook which prompted Louise Howard, the founder of The Great Big Salisbury Christmas Toy Appeal to pay for the entirety of the wishlist for South Wiltshire totalling over £400, but who also donated additional toys worth over £500. In addition, funding for stairgates was provided by Louise as this gap had been identified for many families.
Services in Wiltshire have also recently been awarded £500 to spend on food boxes for families and secured £3,000 to support their work with victims of Domestic Abuse which will go towards organising online courses in the new year.
Looking ahead, the services are looking to continue to deliver groups online to support new parents as well as providing baby bundle packs to local families in need of clothing and essentials for newborns, having delivered over 100 of these to families across Wiltshire since March 2020.
To hear more about how the Wiltshire services have supported families throughout the year and over the Christmas period you can listen to Volunteer Co-ordinator Ruth Orman who spoke to Castledown FM Radio, back in December, on the support available to families in Wiltshire:
Talk of The Towns – 2020-12-10 14:00:00 (autopod.xyz) (Go to: 1hr, 15min)
About the Spurgeons Wiltshire Children’s Centres:
Funded by Wiltshire Council, Spurgeons children’s centres are places where parents of children aged 0–5 years can share the challenges and joys of parenthood. The centres offer a range of activities and support services to help you with all aspects of parenting, helping you make sure your child gets the best start in life.
To learn more about our work in Wiltshire, click here.