Children fleeing domestic violence in Luton and Dunstable have been given a box of hope by a charity which has been helping British children for almost 20 years.
KidsOut organises days out and toys for children who have been threatened with violence and abuse in their homes.
The children often have to leave with a parent at a moment’s notice and arrive at hostels and refuges with little more than just the clothes they’re wearing. They have no books, no toys, nothing to remind them that they are a child. That’s where Kids Out comes in.
Two refuges helping women - Luton Women’s Aid and Homegroup in Dunstable, have received a playroom box of toys for all the children to share.
Gordon Moulds of KidsOut said: “We can’t underestimate how important it is for a child to be able to play, these children have often been surrounded by violence and abuse and many never had had the chance to be a child. Imagine never receiving a gift, never having new clothes or a day out.
“Imagine always living with fear, abuse and violence. Their own toybox is just a start in making sure the children know they are valued and are worthy of love and support.”
Luton Women’s Aid works across all races and offer support to women in forced marriages and so called ‘honour’ based violence but they particularly understand the effect of domestic abuse on children and the confusion that the children feel about having to leave their homes. They believe the KidsOut toys have been vital in making children realise there can be a life without fear of violence and that there is hope and happiness even when life looks bleak. Support workers say; “It’s so often families arrive with next to nothing, just a carrier bag of snatched items and we have some toys donated by Kids Out that allows us to give a few toys to a child when they come to us be it a teddy to cuddle at night or a book to read, small things like that make a huge difference to our children”
Homegroup in Dunstable works to secure safe homes for children and a special community based project by MK ACT in Milton Keynes has helped almost three thousand people escape domestic violence and establish new homes and new lives. But most importantly the toys provided by KidsOut have turned a safe house into a home. One of the mothers who had to hide her children from an abusive partner told KidsOut; “After being rehoused through the women’s refuge, we moved into our new home with just an airbed each and a camping stove. These toys have made our house more like a home. Thank you.”
Last year in Britain over 19,000 children were given shelter in a domestic violence refuge, often with their mothers. After a few months the families are usually rehoused but more than 8000 children were relocated to a new home in an unfamiliar area. KidsOut is working to give these children help and support that will last through the years. KidsOut already organises days out to theme parks and theatres for more than 30,000 children in Britain each year. Many of these children have had their lives broken by abuse and domestic violence but the days out and the gift of a toy box is a stepping stone to a future without fear.
Kids Out is expanding their work to make sure the gift of a teddy bear or toy is just the first hand of friendship to guide these children to a better life. Gordon Moulds KidsOut Chief Executive says “This is the start of a new outreach programme which means if you’ve had a KidsOut toybox then you’re part of our family and we will be there to help and encourage you whether you’re seven or seventeen. We have to end the isolation these children face when they’re forced to flee their homes and end up in a new area, with new schools and trying to find new friends. It’s often too much for them to cope with and Kids Out is determined to throw a lifeline that will last their whole lives. “