Okehampton’s All Saints Church will hold its toy donation service once again this year to provide presents for children unlikely to get any this Christmas.
At the service on December 11, Okehampton residents will have the opportunity to donate second-hand toys to the church which will be sent to children at a women’s refuge in Torbay.
Stephen Cook, reverend of All Saints Church, said: ‘Women often arrive at the refuge without anything except the clothes they stand up and and it’s nice for them to have gifts that they can give to the children during the course of the year.
‘So it’s not just Christmas presents we ask people to bring. We ask for things wrapped, but not in Christmas paper, with a tag saying if the toy is for boy or girl and what age.
‘Then there’s a secret handover in a carpark because we are not allowed to know where the refuge is. So we’ve got this link which has been established for probably at least ten or 15 years. People are always very keen to do it, there’s a real sense of enthusiasm.’
This year there is the additional fear that more toys than ever will be needed as a result of the cost of living crisis and a concern that poverty may lead to increased chances of experiencing domestic abuse.
Rev Cook added: ‘Domestic abuse is always with us. But I know there has been a rise certainly during covid and lockdown and there is a fear that there’s a link between poverty and domestic abuse.’
Okehampton residents can bring their unwanted toys to the service which will take place on December 11 though Rev Cook added that the church was discouraging people from donating toys outside of the church service.
One of Okehampton’s closest women’s centres is Gilead Foundations, a Christian faith-based charity located in Jacobstowe, which provides live-in support for women suffering from domestic abuse, mental health issues, such as depression, and drug addiction.
The Women’s Budget Group reported in 2018 that poverty was likely to increase the chances of domestic abuse as those low incomes or suffering from financial abuse found it more difficult to escape from their living situation.
The most Crime Survey for England and Wales, released last month, has estimated that five percent of adults aged 16 and over (6.9 percent of women and three percent of men) experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2022, equating to about 2.4 million people.
However, there is no crime survey data for the year ending March 2021 as it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.