A nationwide campaign has been launched to provide Christmas presents for 2,000 children across Scotland struggling during the festive season.

Working with Children 1st and Scottish Women’s Aid, the annual Toybank Appeal aims to provide a toy or gift voucher to young people who may otherwise receive nothing at Christmas.

The initiative, organised by the Sarwar Foundation, is now in its eighth year and is also being supported by PFA Scotland and its members.

With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to cause hardship and having a disproportionate impact on those already struggling to get by, this year’s appeal is larger than ever.

In 2019, the campaign extended beyond Glasgow across Scotland for the first time, with around 1,000 toys and vouchers handed out.

The aim is to double that this year, with charities identifying even more families who need help – including children who will spend Christmas in refuge accommodation, having been forced to leave their homes due to domestic abuse.

Previous appeals have enabled a mother living in refuge to give her three children Christmas gifts after being forced to leave their home; a teenager supported by Scottish Women’s Aid was able to use their gift voucher to buy an outfit for their school party, and a family supported by Children 1st enjoyed their first chance to visit Santa.

People can donate directly to the Sarwar Foundation Christmas Toybank Appeal at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/christmastoybank2020, with all funds going towards new toys or gift vouchers.

Ash Kuloo, member services manager at Scottish Women’s Aid, said:
“We are delighted to see the Toybank Appeal partnering with local Women’s Aid groups again this year to help make Christmas special for women, children and young people who have experienced domestic abuse.
“Our local network of Women’s Aid groups across Scotland support and advocate for women, children and young people and provide practical and emotional support.
“This year they have had to radically redesign their services to meet the pressures of the pandemic.
“Partnerships like this one help the groups in their continued work to make a meaningful, lasting difference for women, children and young people.”

Julie Richardson, Children 1st assistant director in Glasgow, said:
“Giving a child a happy Christmas is the greatest gift you can give. Your generous support for the Sarwar Foundation will give children and families, who have been stretched to breaking point by this terrible pandemic, some much needed relief and Christmas cheer.
“A huge thank you to everyone who is supporting this year’s Toybank Appeal.”

Fraser Wishart, chief executive of PFA Scotland, said:
“The Coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on everyone this year and we know this year’s Christmas is going to be a particularly difficult time for families across the country.
“The Toybank Appeal slogan of ‘Every Child Deserves a Christmas’ really hit home with our management committee, especially those with children of their own, and they wanted to do something to help those who will struggle during the festive season.
“We hope our donation will help put a smile on the faces of children across the country on Christmas morning.”

Anas Sarwar MSP, president of the Sarwar Foundation, said:
“There are thousands of children across Scotland who miss out on Christmas and this year is going to be tougher than ever.
“The coronavirus pandemic is causing hardship and having a disproportionate impact on those already struggling to get by, so we want this year’s appeal to be larger than ever.
“Please consider donating to the campaign because every child deserves a Christmas.”

Donations can be made online at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/christmastoybank2020