Appeal brings Christmas cheer to charity

An Exeter domestic abuse charity has been inundated with Christmas gifts for children, after a Facebook appeal went viral.

The appeal was issued by Exeter blogger Rachaele Hambleton whose regular Facebook posts under the name ‘Part-Time Working Mummy’ have earned her more than 230,000 followers.

Rachaele, who had been helped by the Exeter Stop Abuse for Everyone (SAFE) group in the past, visited them at the end of November. She then wrote a post about it, encouraging her followers to contribute to SAFE’s Christmas Wishlist appeal, in which people can choose items from a list, and buy them through Amazon.

Just two days later, staff at the charity were astonished to receive 15 packages from the online retailer.  At the beginning of this week they had around 60 – and the parcels continue coming in.

SAFE’s Chief Executive Jacinta Wainwright said, “The response has been amazing – we couldn’t believe it. It’s such a heart-warming thing to happen at Christmas.”

Rachaele said, ”I chose to work with SAFE because once upon a time, before their women's refuge was closed down, it was mine and my daughters’  home. Without their input, support and advice at that time things would have ended very differently for me.”

The wishlist for donations consists of children’s toys and books  which can be used in play therapy, including puppets and model animals, craft materials, colouring books and storybooks which encourage children to talk about their feelings relating to the abuse in their families.

Rachaele was particularly touched by hearing how a little boy with a violent father was unable to talk to SAFE about his feelings, until he was invited to tell his story using toys, and chose models of a dinosaur and a rat to represent himself and his father. 

Commenting on the success of her appeal, she said,  “I was totally overwhelmed at the amount of donations that went to SAFE from my crew, but in all honesty I would expect nothing else from them. 

“I will continue to support SAFE, I am excited about what the future holds in terms of raising awareness for domestic abuse as a whole and gaining more funds to ensure SAFE continue to support families who are in desperate need of their help.”

The appeal has received another boost in the last few days from law firm Ashfords LLP's Exeter office.

Rory Suggett, Partner and Head of CSR, said: "This year instead of sending Christmas cards, we have decided to support charities in the local communities of our offices. Staff in our Exeter office are delighted to be supporting SAFE with its Children's Wishlist appeal and hope that the contribution helps put some smiles on a few faces during the festive period."  

The Christmas Wishlist appeal is ongoing and anyone who wants to donate can do so by visiting www.amazon.co.uk/gp/registry/wishlist/ or alternatively using the shorter link  http://amzn.to/2glj39E

There is also a Just Giving account for donating to SAFE: https://www.justgiving.com/stopabuseforeveryone/donate

People can also donate directly to SAFE via its new website, which has been re-launched with a number of improved features.