Colin Grainger

Help ensure no child loses out this Christmas

Community Links logo

For 37 of the previous 41 years of my working life I have penned a plea to the community in East London to help with a very special appeal.

This year I will write that request not from the columns of the paper that was part of my life for 40 years but from my own website and using the unique power of Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

I ask everyone to help change the lives of some young ones who are at risk through no fault of their own.

The Community Links and Newham Recorder Christmas Toy Appeal is an appeal at the heart of all that is good in the community in East London.

Over the coming weeks, the Recorder and Links are combining again for the campaign to reach out to thousands of vulnerable children, families and adults.

Christmas can be a time of stress and isolation as we still have over half our children living in poverty. But Community Links looks to strengthen communities and raise aspirations at this time, making Christmas special and futures brighter.

Links is a truly remarkable organisation which does so much to enhance life in East London. I am honoured to be associated with it.

So I ask that you to include some very special people in your Christmas shopping budget and see it in yourheart to add some special youngsters to your Christmas shopping list.

When you buy gifts for loved ones and friends, please add another – for a child in Newham. If you give a special person some money for their own gift, or perhaps you could put aside some money for a needy child. All toys need to be new and unwrapped and can be for any age upto 16. In particular, the appeal is always short of toys for teenagers.

Many youngsters who benefited from campaigns years ago are now workers or volunteers at Links. It is a philosophy that has stood the test of time: helping and enabling people to help themselves.

I ended my long association with the Newham Recorder 11 months ago when it was merged with another title and I was made redundant. But it has been my privilege to be part of this special appeal for many years and I will continue to support it.

I shall be doing my usual 50 lengths sponsored swim so if you want to sponsor me please feel free to do so. Details are on also my Facebook and Twitter pages.

You can also contribute to any of the events Links and the Recorder will be mentioning. There’s a great quiz night at Links HQ in Canning Town on December 5.

Tables are £75 for upto eight people or there’s the annual Christmas lunch at Links on December 12. More details on Links website or in the paper. Advance booking is recommended and its always a good laugh. If you want to send us a cheque, please make it payable to Community Links.

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*West Ham MP Lyn Brown makes a donation last year with Paula Blake from Links

Last year we raised a record 15,000 toys. The appeal needs to equal that this year.

The appeal involves the whole community. It provides gifts for over 3,500 children to open on Christmas morning.

Over 1,000 children had a once in-a-lifetime Christmas party, and 1,500 children had the opportunity of experiencing a pantomime. And another 70 families at risk and 50 senior citizens living alone had a seasonal food hamper tohelp them through Christmas.This year Links have some great ideas on how you can help. See their website

The appeal aims to provide a bag of gifts to open on Christmas morning for children who are referred by a combination of East London’s caring agencies and family support groups, ensuring that the Appeal helps those most in need at Christmas.

Contact Links by phone, call in, e-mail or go directly to their website for details of what you can do. Please help prove that together we can make a vital difference to so many children

Poverty can hit anyone at anytime – the loss of employment, the loss of a parent, a long term illness can push a family onto the downward poverty spiral through no fault of their own.

I urge everyone who can – individuals, businesses, schools, clubs, churches, organisations to give a toy because together we can fill those empty sacks and ensure that Christmas Day is a real Christmas Day this year for every child in Newham.


* Featured image on home page…kind hearted bikers bring their donations for the appeal last year


  • Pictures: Colin Grainger


  1. Cathie Forth (nee Allen)
    November 8, 2013

    Hi Colin, you probably won’t remember me, but my Mum is/was Maureen (Allen) from the recorder. Each year I watch out to find out how the quiz nights have gone and who has won Mum’s trophy and it makes me feel deeply happy and proud. It’s such a special thing to do and I really appreciate that each year you mention Mum – it means ever such a lot to me.
    I have lived in Nottingham for the past 14 years – the time has flown – we have three little boys 9, 6 and 5 who have all inherited Mum’s fun, peacefulness and strong sense of compassion. I have shown them the Community Links work and have been reliably formed that it is ‘awesome’!!. So I just wanted to say hello, and thank you, sincerely. Really hope all is well with you and that you are enjoying life moving forward from the Recorder.
    with love,

  2. Colin Grainger
    November 11, 2013

    Hi Cathie,
    Of course I remember you and I am so glad it means so much to you. Maureen meant an awful lot to me personally and to the paper and to Links. Kevin Jenkins at Links has always kept that link with mum alive and I will take a copy of your email to him when I see him at this year’s quiz on December 5. The appeal has a very special place in my heart and when I got made redundant last year I launched the appeal two weeks early and worked behind the scenes to ensure we reached the target. I am doing the same this year, and my sponsored swim to help it succeed again. I am not yet sure how much space the paper is going to give the appeal but I do hope the commitment is there. Whatever happens, I will do my best to help it succeed. Thanks so much for getting it touch, it means a lot to me too. Love. Colin

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