And what a year it’s been! Highs and lows. Desperation for many, but also many acts of kindness. Community spirit like we’ve never seen before, flexibility required from our team and volunteers like we’ve never had to ask before.
2020 has been an extremely busy year for Stripey Stork; to date we’ve answered 2,123 regular requests for help, on top of the bulk items supplied during COVID-19 and our seasonal campaigns. We’ve helped so many struggling families whilst becoming even stronger in the face of adversity. We’ve picked our monthly highlights as the year draws to a close, reflecting on those key moments and events which have been a significant part of Stripey’s year.
We kick-started the year with the first of many very generous in kind donations; 311 pairs of high quality new shoes from The Shoe Tree. Sadly this local store was closing but they were kind enough to think of us when deciding what to do with their remaining stock. We have valued the in kind donations made to us by local and national businesses across the whole of 2020 at an incredible £172k. Such items complement our pre-loved donations beautifully, and really add to the fact that our care packages feel like a gift and not a handout.
Support from Cllr Thomson, Cllr Grant-Duff (both of Surrey County Council) and Reed Business Information (now LexisNexis Risk Solutions) enabled us to fit a brand-new kitchen. It transformed our workspace giving us separate sinks for cleaning items and making refreshments, plumbing in our tumble dryer and washing machine, and providing much more storage space. It was perfectly timed, as little did we know then how important it would be to maintain very high levels of hygiene during the pandemic which was about to strike.
Stripey Stork gave out 565 gift bags with pamper treats for our Mum2Mum2020 campaign. These were distributed by our referral partners, delivering a welcome boost to many isolated Mums as the first lockdown was imposed. Adjustments to our core service were made and the nation was about to be tested more than could ever have been anticipated.
“All three Mothers I handed the bags out to were overwhelmed… Without these gifts they would not have been remembered on Mother’s Day.”
The effects of the pandemic really started to hit home, referrals were on the up and, with no donation sessions, our shelves quickly started to empty. Our COVID-19 Fund was launched so we could replenish essential items which were running low. Our supporters did not disappoint, they raised a fantastic £5,837 that enabled us to restock with the basics to help ensure we could meet every single request for support. This period was also a great example of community organisations working together to share their resources; other baby banks, food banks and hygiene banks pulling together to ensure items quickly got to where they were needed most.
By this point we had sourced, prepared and given out crisis packs with toiletries, nappies and wipes to 860 families (the total to date is now 1,829 families). You can read a collection of stories that captured ‘Life Under Lockdown’ for some of the families we were supporting here.
“I had one Mum queueing outside the supermarket every morning with her baby, in the hope that nappies would be in stock. It was so stressful for her, but she was desperate. It was wonderful to be able to say we can help!”
Stripes4Stripey went virtual this year but that didn’t stop us raising a whopping £5,642, providing us with the funds to buy new pants, socks & PJs all year round. Every day leading up to Stripes4Stripey Day we had a countdown of children’s activities which could be enjoyed from home at no cost, to keep our young supporters entertained. We were touched by the support of so many individuals, businesses, schools and community groups who participated in this virtual campaign. Unison Choir even performed a virtual song for us.
We were also one of the three grateful recipient charities of Natural Baby Shower‘s rainbow collection campaign which they ran over May and June – raising an incredible £2,000 for each charity from 10% of the collection’s sales – who were chosen because of the unprecedented challenges they now faced, whilst continuing to support the most vulnerable in their community.
As lockdown eased and the summer holidays loomed, we wanted to alleviate some of the pressure for vulnerable families that were struggling to keep their children occupied. We were delighted that HM Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey and The High Sheriff of Surrey could join us to contribute packing the 500+ holiday activity packs we gave out, read more here.
Always a busy month with back to school requests as we like to ensure the children we are supporting have the necessary kit, but also the items which are going to help them fit in, hence our ongoing Bags4School campaign. We gave out 346 age appropriate school bags filled with stationery, a water bottle, books and toiletries.
“I am only too aware of the outcomes for young people who find themselves outside education. Anything that can be done to keep them there and give them the confidence and belief in themselves is always welcome.”
As with many other fundraisers in this ‘2020 kinda year’, the popular Run Reigate community event also had to go virtual. That still didn’t stop Team Stork dressing orange and pounding the streets, parks and treadmills to clock up the miles and earn their medal. An incredible £5,349 (plus gift aid) was raised, making us extremely proud of every adult, child, family, referral and even Archie the dog who ran for us, see for yourself.
Knowing that October half term would add pressure to local families already in financial difficulty, we partnered with The Red Oak Family Centre and distributed 42 activity bags, each with a Halloween twist of a costume included.
We embarked on a project which replaced all of our lower shelving with taller racking, which enabled us to fill our shelves with more stock just in time for the second national lockdown. This upgrade was made possible due to the generous support of Gerrards Fashion who donated the profits from their face mask sales and Richard Feist who ran the virtual London Marathon for us.
Our new Santa Stork model has been a huge success in helping us to fulfil the many more requests which have been flooding in. Sadly, our referral partners anticipated more vulnerable families would need support this Christmas, and they were correct! All together we distributed 3,631 gifts for children and 1,537 for parents/carers. Our supporters rose to the challenge through pledging gifts through our virtual Santa Shop which were then supplied by Toy Barnhaus. Reigate & Banstead Borough Council provided us with The Harlequin Theatre to run our operations and the Santa Stork team worked tirelessly to make sure all of the gifts were thoughtfully put together for each family, read more on this here.
As you can see, it’s been quite the year! 2021 will be no less of a challenge, but we will be no less ready with our fantastic community under our wing. Thank you for being a part of all we’ve achieved this year and so far.