A service that helps people in need is appealing for more donations to meet its Christmas demand.
Glasgow’s No.1 Baby & Family Support Service (GN1BFSS) provides second-hand every-day essentials – including clothing, footwear, toys and household goods – to those experiencing hardship and working poverty.
Since launching in 2017, the vital service has helped thousands of people in difficulty.
Every Christmas the charity donates five toys and a warm winter jacket to children in need.
In its first year it sent festive packs to 192 youngsters. Now, referrals have shot up to more than 1000 in the first week of December alone.
Service manager Audrey Dempsey told STV News that the coronavirus pandemic has severely affected donations.
She said that in the past, a number of Glasgow companies would hold fundraising days or toy drives, but that has since dried up due to the lockdowns, staff having to work from home, as well as businesses closing down.
Ms Dempsey said: “This worries us as we have no idea if we will be able to cover all the referrals as the numbers keep growing but the donations are dwindling.
“When we compare last year’s pictures with this year’s pictures of donations, it does worry us.
“Last year, we had our appeal in a school and our donations filled three classrooms and a large gym hall area.
“We were hit with the drastic news in late October that we couldn’t use the school this year as the electric supply had been cut off and for about two weeks I barely closed my eyes for worrying about where I could run this appeal as our premises are full with no spare space.
“Thankfully, a local priest, Father Gannon, saved the day as he offered us his church hall to work from and that literally was a godsend I have to say.
“He really pulled us out a hole and we will be eternally thankful for that.”
The festive packs are for children aged from birth to 17.
While GN1BFSS accepts second-hand goods all year round, it is asking for new toys to make up the Christmas packages.
Ms Dempsey explained: “At Christmas we ask if the toys can be new as no child wants to think Santa has given them someone else’s old toys.”
The packs are tailored to each individual child. As well as popular general toys, the service also donates speciality goods to cater for children with learning needs.
The festive packs consist of:
- A warm jacket.
- Something they can play solo with.
- Something that requires family engagement.
- Something educational.
- Books they can read.
- Something to their own taste/requirements.
Ms Dempsey said: “I think our figures rising previous years verifies that poverty continued to rise throughout our city anyway, but this year the referrals are coming from all over Glasgow and the outskirts, and some of the stories behind the referrals are extremely heart-wrenching.
“The new ‘normal’, as we keep hearing it referred to, is actually a living nightmare for so many people and we just feel the focus is on all the wrong things and so many people’s needs are being overlooked.
“Working poverty is also rife at present and we feel in this day and age that just should not be the case.
“It was bad pre-Covid, so Covid cannot be held fully responsible. This is an ongoing thing in our city that we have evidenced on the frontline for the past three years.”
GN1BFSS continued on throughout the pandemic, however the service had to run with only four staff members due to volunteers having to shield.
Ms Dempsey said: “We had lots of calls from people who were in sheer despair through lack of money due to zero-hour contracts etc and not qualifying for any furlough, benefit caps and sanctions.”
The service also helped self-employed workers who had suffered job losses, as well as those suffering from stress and anxiety due to the sudden change of lifestyle and rise in living costs from being stuck at home.
Ms Dempsey said: “It was quite a surreal time for us as we just had to go into autopilot and get on with it and we found ourselves supporting people in many different ways.”
The charity, based in Forge Street, accepts both self and professional referrals.
Ms Dempsey added: “We would just like to thank every individual and company who supports this service from the bottom of our hearts.
“People power in Glasgow is just the best ever and we are proud of our city and how our people pull together.
“We hope this support continues. Take it from someone who works on the frontline daily and sees first-hand the tragic situations people are finding themselves in, poverty is going nowhere without a fight and we hope the public stand by us and help us win the fight against it.”
To drop off goods for the festive packs, go to 261 Forge Street, Glasgow. For more information or to arrange a pick-up, call 07512 145 068 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.