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Launch of the Newham Recorder and Community Links Christmas Toy Appeal 2011

PUBLISHED: 10:30 09 November 2011

Ricky Grover launching our Christmas Toy Appeal with a junior taskforce of helpers: Photo Steve Poston

Ricky Grover launching our Christmas Toy Appeal with a junior taskforce of helpers: Photo Steve Poston

Archant

Every year that I start to write this message for what is a truly special appeal, I do so with a sense of amazement…and fear.

Every year I ask you to help me prove what a special place Newham is, and every year I have been at the Newham Recorder you have never let me down.

Twelve months ago I said it was a fact of life that there is every chance this could be one of the toughest Christmases we have faced together for many years. It certainly was. And as we look back over the last 12 months it has been a time of contrasting fortunes.

Much of our community is still living in poverty, yet the local community has just had a boost from the opening of the biggest shopping centre of its kind in Europe in Stratford.

The riots that affected our country hit us as well. Yet the community spirit I believe is a strong as ever.

And it is that spirit that I want to evoke as we launch into something which we believe with a passion will change lives for the better. And we need your help.

The paper I have been associated with for over 39 years, the Newham Recorder, and our partners Community Links are combining again in a very special appeal to reach out to thousands of vulnerable children, families and adults.

In Newham, where half of our children still live in poverty, Christmas can be a time of stress and isolation. But Community Links looks to strengthen communities and raise aspirations at this time, making Christmas special and futures brighter.

Remarkable

Links is a truly remarkable organisation which does so much to enhance life in the our borough.

I ask you to help with this most important appeal we have been running for more than three decades. I want 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.

For the 35th year we are proudly launching our Christmas Toy Appeal in conjunction with Community Links, a care group at the very heart of local life. When we started the campaign all those years ago we had a target of 500 toys, which I thought we would never reach.

But we did, thanks to the fantastic readers of this paper, which is still the heartbeat of Newham.

As the paper and Community Links have grown, so has the target.

In the weeks before Christmas last year, the community helped us find a record 14,500 toys, which were distributed to needy children locally over Christmas – the highest total ever.

Through the years we have had celebrities from all over the world support our appeal, yet the small donation from a child or a pensioner is what I think helps make Newham a special place.

The business community also make a great response.

Together last year’s appeal provided gifts for more than 3,500 children to open on Christmas morning.

Nearly 1,000 children had a once-in-a-lifetime Christmas party, and 1,500 children had the opportunity of experiencing a pantomime.

And another 60 families at risk and 50 senior citizens living alone had a seasonal food hamper to help them through Christmas.

This year Links have some great ideas on how you can help. See their website www.community-links.org

You can also download posters to help you promote the Toy Appeal and a full list of ideas for your own festive fund-raising events.

Most in need

If you would like to discuss getting your company to stage a programme of activities in advance please see the Community Links website.

Our 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 the Christmas spirit is alive and well in Newham.

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.

We promise that every pound donated will be turned into toys for children in Newham. Every toy will be wrapped and distributed to youngsters who can then enjoy the magic of Christmas. On the facing page and over the coming weeks you will see details of the drop-off points we have set-up.

You can stage your own event to raise funds for the appeal or come along to the events we will be mentioning over the coming weeks.

This is a truly local appeal for youngsters who run the risk of missing out on this special time of year.

Please keep reading over the coming weeks as you and your family prepare to celebrate Christmas. We welcome every gift, from the youngest person with the smallest amount to the most generous and biggest of benefactors. It reflects our special multi-ethnic community.

Please organise a toy collection in your home or office; raise money at your Christmas party; or simply buy a new toy and drop it off or send us your money. If you want to send us a cheque, please make it payable to Community Links.

We cannot do this without you...we need your help and we need it now.

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A message from Kevin Jenkins from our appeal partners, Community Links...

I am so lucky, I never woke up to an empty sack on Christmas morning. Father Christmas had always called and eaten the mince pie and Rudolph the carrot that I had left on the hearth.

I know that there will be many many children not so lucky this Christmas. Father Christmas will not be calling on them unless our Toy Appeal can help him fill their sacks.

In Newham there are still more than 50 per cent of our children who experience the ravages of poverty every day of their lives.

Poverty takes no prisoners, it respects no boundaries, class or age. Poverty takes hold and saps daily confidence, esteem, belief and aspiration. Families see no way out and the grip continues to tighten.

At Christmas the grip is tightest. From early Autumn shops are full of gifts, supermarkets full of seasonal food and toy shops with this years top ten toys but each of those families know that Christmas Day for them will be the same as any other day of the year.

I know times are tough for everyone at the moment but I ask 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 special day for every child this year.

Together we can make the difference – I thank you for helping to make this difference - Kevin Jenkins

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Community Links have gone into the Christmas tree business...to help fund their day to day operations in the community.

Their social enterprise unit have launched the new development this year and are asking businesses if they would consider getting their trees for their office premises from Links.

Co-founder and senior advisor Kevin Jenkins said: “The trees are from ethnical and sustainable sources so we can guarantee that they are top quality and will hold their needles throughout the festive period and will only have been cut a few days before they are delivered. Delivery will be made on a day of people’s choice.”

The cost of trees ranges from £35 for four to five ft to £55 for seven to eight ft Fraser Firs and from £75 for a 10ft to £90 for a 14ft Traditional Norway Spruce.

Phone (020) 7473 9685 or e-mail kevin.jenkins@community-links.org for details.

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Community Links are staging a Christmas on the Farm event at Newham City Farm, Stansfeld Road, Beckton on December 17 and 18.

The event raises money for the farm, run by Links and funds for toys for the annual Toy Appeal staged by Links and the Recorder. It includes a nativity scene with attractions such as Father Christmas, Newham’s tallest Christmas tree, Nativity plays, workshops, refreshments, a Christmas farm trail (with a winning prize for the children who complete) and of course carol singing!

n From noon until 4pm, there is table space available for craft and seasonal products. Anyone interested, contact Kevin Jenkins at kevin.jenkins@community-links.org or call (020) 7473 2270.

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Newham charity Community Links and the Newham Recorder send out a special alert this week...we need to find Santas for our toy appeal!

Next month, we launch our Christmas Appeal for needy children. An ability to get on well with children is essential. Full training and support is given and suit and beard! There will be an enhanced CRB check. Contact Kevin Jenkins on (020) 7473 2270.

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EastEnders actor Ricky Grover took time out of his busy filming schedule to help launch the Recorder and Community Links Christmas Toy Appeal in Canning Town, showing his support for our campaign to help underprivileged children.

Ricky, who plays Heather Trott’s love interest Andrew in the BBC One soap, met a junior taskforce of children at the charity’s headquarters in Barking Road to help our goal to get thousands of toys for Newham children who would otherwise have none this Christmas, writes Melissa York.

Ricky, 49, said: “What people forget is Christmas is about giving and people get so wrapped up in the size of their turkey and most people are buying presents to impress rather than for the real reason. Christmas was always about giving and I think we should go back to that. I think the best people will ever feel is when they give something.

“I think we’re all looking to feel worthy, everyone needs self-worth, so if you want to feel worthy this Christmas, then give something back.

“If you can put a smile on any kid’s face, then you’re a winner and you can sit down and enjoy your turkey then.”

Ricky proved a hit with the children as they quizzed him about the goings on in Albert Square and what the other actors are like, gathered around him asking for autographs for themselves and their mums, and hugged him goodbye when they left.

The Getting On star added: “It was really nice to meet the kids because I’m from this area and I suppose there’s a connection with them because of that.”

Talking about his plans for Christmas, Ricky said: “I’ll be recovering from Eastenders! We’re filming all the Christmas stuff at the moment so I’m already tucking into Christmas dinner. By the time the real one comes along, I won’t be able to face it!”

Then Ricky added: “On a serious note, I’ll be going round East Ham to see my mum and spend Christmas with her. She’s a very special lady.”

With less than eight weeks to go until Christmas and a target of 15,000 toys, Ricky wished the Appeal the best of luck and pledged to help in any way he could.

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Come on down and join the quiz event of the year on December 1. The quiz night competition is a chance to raise money for the Community Links and Recorder Christmas Toy Appeal.

Our annual challenge quiz will be held from 7.30pm. Participants can arrive from 7pm at Links’ base in Barking Road, Canning Town.

It always provides tension, drama and above all else, fun. The Recorder’s own team will be there.

Tables of eight cost just £75, which will enable one family of disadvantaged children to have a really special Christmas. As well as the chance to hold the trophy for a year, each member of the winning team will get a bottle of wine.

To enter call (020) 7473 2270.mber this year.

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Newham charity Community Links are staging a Christmas lunch to raise funds for the appeal and buy new toys.

Places for the meal on December 15 have to be booked. A meal of soup, turkey main course, ham, roast spuds and sprouts and carrors, parsnips, followed by mince piesor custard and trifle and glass or wine costs £9, or £65 for a table of eight. Veggie options are available. The meals are served from noon to 1.30pm and then from 1.30pm to 3pm.

Phone (020) 7473 9685 or (020) 7473 2270 or e-mail kevin.jenkins@community-links.org for details.

If you want to stage an event or raise money for the appeal or collect toys, call (020) 7473 2270.

If you want to do your own sponsored swim, forms are available from Links main office in Canning Town, or from the Recorder’s office in High Road, Ilford. If you want to find out more about the appeal or Links, tour their offices to find out about their fantastic work or offer help, call the same numbers.

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Newham charity Community Links are staging a Christmas lunch to raise funds for the appeal and buy new toys.

Places for the meal on December 15 have to be booked. A meal of soup, turkey main course, ham, roast spuds and sprouts and carrors, parsnips, followed by mince piesor custard and trifle and glass or wine costs £9, or £65 for a table of eight. Veggie options are available. The meals are served from noon to 1.30pm and then from 1.30pm to 3pm.

Phone (020) 7473 9685 or (020) 7473 2270 or e-mail kevin.jenkins@community-links.org for details.

If you want to stage an event or raise money for the appeal or collect toys, call (020) 7473 2270.

If you want to do your own sponsored swim, forms are available from Links main office in Canning Town, or from the Recorder’s office in High Road, Ilford. If you want to find out more about the appeal or Links, tour their offices to find out about their fantastic work or offer help, call the same numbers.

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Newham Bookshop is one of the longest-serving supporters of the Community Links and Newham Recorder Christmas Toy Appeal – and this week they helped to kick off the appeal by giving us the first donation.

We were amazed by their kindness once again as the shop’s staff proved their generosity and commitment to those who might otherwise miss out. Boss of the bookshop in Barking Road, Upton Park, Vivienne Archer handed over her gifts with some help from successful local novelist Jean Fullerton, from Stratford.

She specialises in historical and romantic novels set in the 18th and 19th century and said she was honoured to help make the first donation to our vital campaign.

Jean, who has been shortlisted for a number of awards recently, urged everyone to help.

Vivienne Archer said: “We are always happy to help with this important local appeal. Our customers remind us every year how important it is. With the help of our customers we always try to support as many local causes as possible. The appeal is very close to the hearts of everyone.” The store is also part of our network of drop-off points. Full list below.

Where you can leave your gifts:

There is a network of drop-off points all over Newham where you can leave toys. These are at:

NEWHAM RECORDER: The reception desk, Media House, 539, High Road, Ilford, 9am to 5.30pm weekdays.

COMMUNITY LINKS: Main Centre, Barking Road, Canning Town, 9am to 6pm weekdays.

COMMUNITY LINKS CENTRAL PARK CENTRE: 2 Central Park Road, East Ham, during opening hours.

COMMUNITY LINKS ASTA CENTRE: Camel Road, Silvertown, 9am to 6pm weekdays.

COMMUNITY LINKS ROKEBY CENTRE: Rokeby Street, Stratford, 9am to 6pm weekdays.

NEWHAM CITY FARM, Stansfeld Road, Beckton, during opening hours.

ASDA SUPERSTORE: Tollgate Road, Beckton, during store opening hours.

THE LORD STANLEY PUB: St. Mary’s Road, Plaistow, during opening hours.

THEATRE ROYAL, STRATFORD: Gerry Raffles Square, during opening hours.

LORD LISTER HEALTH CENTRE: Woodgrange Road, Forest Gate, 9am to 5pm weekdays.

NEWHAM BOOKSHOP: Barking Road, Upton Park, 9.30am to 5pm, during opening hours.

ST MARK’S CHURCH AND CENTRE: Lorne Road, Forest Gate, during centre opening hours.

WEST HAM UNITED SUPPORTERS CLUB: Castle Street, Upton Park, 9am to 10pm any day.

ST BARTHOLOMEW’S CHURCH AND CENTRE: Barking Road/ St Bartholmew’s , East Ham, 9am to 5pm any day.

EAST HAM TOWN HALL: Barking Road, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

THE OLD TOWN HALL: Stratford Broadway, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

BECKTON LOCAL SERVICE CENTRE: Kingsford Way, during opening hours Monday to Saturday.

GREEN STREET LOCAL SERVICE CENTRE: Green Street, Upton Park, during opening hours.

STRATFORD LOCAL SERVICE CENTRE: The Grove, Stratford, during opening hours.

EAST HAM LOCAL SERVICE CENTRE: Barking Road, East Ham, during opening hours.

THE GATE LOCAL SERVICE CENTRE and LIBRARY: Woodgrange Road, Forest Gate, during opening hours.

PLAISTOW PARK COMMUNITY CENTRE: Queens Road West, Plaistow, during opening hours.

BARCHESTER, WESTGATE HOUSE NURSING HOME: Romford Road, Forest Gate, during opening hours.

n We can arrange for toys to be collected if you wish to make a donation but are housebound. Contact Kevin Jenkins, Paula Blake or reception at Community Links on (020) 7473 2270. Alternatively, call Pat Coughtrey, Kay Atwal, Melissa York, Luke Jacobs or Colin Grainger on the Recorder’s Toy Appeal Desk on (020) 8478 4444. You can also make a cash donation. We promise that every penny given will be spent on brand new toys for needy youngsters in our community. Please make any cheques payable to Community Links


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