2020: The Year So Far

2020 has been a tough year for many of us, none more so than the families KidsOut supports. Covid-19 has led to a domestic abuse crisis. One call relating to domestic abuse was made to police every 30 seconds in the first seven weeks of lockdown. Most children arrive at a women’s refuge with only the clothes on their back, restricted to a single room with their mother. Many mothers struggle to provide essentials, let alone toys and activities for their children. A KidsOut survey has revealed that, of the 320 Women’s Aid Federation refuges the charity supports across the UK, roughly 30% are not currently receiving assistance from local foodbanks, while 40% lack free school meal vouchers.

As the only charity supporting children in women’s refuges on a national scale, KidsOut responded quickly to the crisis. With the generous support from the general public and funders like the Direct Line Group, the Home Office, and a range of charitable trusts and foundations, KidsOut has been able to support the physical and mental welfare of families who have entered refuge during the Covid-19 pandemic. Between April and September 2020, KidsOut has provided:

  • 14,019 food vouchers
  • 5,851 boxes of brand-new toys

The food vouchers worth £25 each have been delivered digitally to refuges across the UK, allowing mothers to purchase essential groceries for their families. As the crisis unfolded, KidsOut focused its support on those who lacked access to a local foodbank and/or free school meal vouchers. This is the first year KidsOut has ever provided food vouchers, with the initiative having a tremendous impact on the wellbeing of families in refuge. A recent survey of those receiving vouchers between July and October highlighted the following outcomes:

  • Relief of poverty – 99% of respondents said that the financial pressure of purchasing a weekly food shop for their family had been relieved
  • Improved physical health – 94% of respondents said their families were eating healthier
  • Reduced levels stress in the family unit – 97% of respondents said they felt less worried/stressed about buying food for their family

“I am so very grateful each time I receive a KidsOut Sainsburys voucher. It means I can buy my children some items I normally avoid because they’re more expensive. For us, it’s usually fresh berries, fruit juices, some cereals. A few times, a voucher has helped us save money so we could buy something else needed, such as shoes.” – A mother.“I was struggling financially to buy essential groceries, but the weight has now been lifted off my shoulders. When I received the voucher, it helped me to feed my kids without worrying. Thank you so much.” – A mother.“The vouchers go a long way to providing comfort to mums who otherwise struggle to feed themselves and their children in such uncertain times.” – A refuge support worker.“The vouchers have helped the women and the children in the refuge so much, in terms of having food and not having to worry about where their next meal is coming from.” – A refuge support worker.“I know mum worries about being able to get food and it was good that we could go to Sainsburys and get some normal food.” – A child.“Thank you we have had lots of new fruit in our packed lunch boxes.” – A child.

The boxes of brand-new toys were just as positively received. KidsOut has been delivering toy boxes for over a decade, with the service changing in response to Covid-19. This year, the boxes have been sent to children while they are living in refuge, rather than waiting until they were rehomed. With KidsOut’s Fun Days cancelled, the toys and activities provided children with positive distractions while social distancing in refuge. A recent survey of those receiving toys in September highlighted the following outcomes:

  • Improved family bonding & social development – 100% of respondents said their family were playing better together
  • Increased levels of happiness – 100% of respondents said their children were noticeably happier
  • New positive memories – 100% of respondents said their children received something to treasure and a happy memory to look back on
  • Reduced stress & anxiety – 95% of respondents said their children were kept occupied and had positive distractions from any worries

“This will help bring us closer as a family.” – A mother.“We were not able to bring their toys as we needed more important things when we left and had planned to maybe get them later. However, later was too late and the toys had been destroyed. What you have given has made a big difference.” – A mother.“The children we work with have often experienced trauma and loss of all things familiar to them so for us to be able to provide them with something to make them smile and remind them of how special they are is wonderful.” – A refuge support worker.“These toy boxes are such a special and highly valued gift to our children at a time when they need support, love and distraction from the cruel reality of domestic violence and separation from family and friends. On delivery they never fail to raise a smile and are a relief to mums who are battling with difficult circumstances and they take some comfort in the knowledge their children are happy for a while. Thanks for all your support.” – A refuge support worker.“Wow this is better than Christmas.” – A child.“We can all play together now, this is the best day ever.” – A child.“I don’t have to worry about my toys being broke by dad when he loses his temper.” – A child.“Wow, I can’t believe people actually care so much to do this for us.” – A child.

KidsOut would like to extend a massive thank you to all those who have supported the charity at this time, both financially and through volunteering. Without your support, none of the above would have been possible.

KidsOut is busy preparing for more food vouchers and toy boxes to be delivered to families in refuge over Christmas 2020. You can donate a toy to a child in refuge by taking part in KidsOut’s Giving Tree. Click here to visit the online shop and donate a toy today!