Colin Grainger

Show how much you care – and ensure no child loses out

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The last 12 months have seen many changes on the landscape in Newham as the pace of development increases.

But despite this enrichment of the community, the levels of poverty are still very much a significant part of life in East London.

The recent stunning report from The Campaign to End Child Poverty showed that Newham remains among the top areas for child poverty in the UK, despite being so close to so much wealth…and it can be devastating.

And YOU can help ease some of that poverty by helping a special appeal that is at the very heart of all that is good in Newham.

For almost all of my 42-year working life I have penned a plea to the community in East London to help with this special appeal.

This year I will pen that appeal 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 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 a special appeal at the heart of all that is good in the community in East London.

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.

Next week, the Recorder and Links are combining again for the special appeal 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.

So I ask that you to include some very special people in your Christmas shopping budget and see it in your heart 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, 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 up to 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.

It has been my privilege to be part of this special appeal for many years. I shall be doing my usual 50 lengths sponsored swim so if you want to sponsor me please feel free to do so.

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 4.

Or there’s the annual Christmas lunch at Links on December 12. More details on Links’ website or in the paper.

If you want to send us a cheque, please make it payable to Community Links.

toy appeal launch


Links Chief Executive Geraldline Blake revealed two weeks ago that Newham residents in the main work very hard, often on more than one job, but for very low rates of pay. More than half theworkforce here earns below the London Living wage and over 20 per cent are illegally employed on less than the minimum wage.

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 almost 4,000 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 t ohelp them through Christmas.This year Links have some great ideas on how you can help. See their website or their Faceboook or Twitter Pages for more details.

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.
Newham Council back the campaign by making a number of buildings available as drop-off points.

Others will be listed on Community Links’ website and in the Recorder.

The need is greater than ever this year. Please do all you can to help.


Pictured: How the appeal spans the generations. A 1980s picture of the fund-raising sponsored swim…and Suggs launches the appeal last year.


Pictures: Colin Grainger/Newham Recorder

One Comment

  1. […] A version of this article was originally posted on Colin’s own website […]

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This article was written on 29 Oct 2014, and is filed under Canning Town, Christmas, Christmas Toy Appeal, community, Community Links, community spirit, Kevin Jenkins, Newham Recorder.

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