We are saying thank you to all the groups and companies who have been collecting gift boxes and bags full of stocking fillers and essential winter warmers for the children we support this Christmas. Our office has more gifts in it than Santas workshop!
Gifts have been going out to families for the past 3 weeks, and we’ll continue to give them out right up until Christmas, with any remaining items going into stock to help families throughout 2020. The brilliant Santas who have been pulling the gifts and other essential items together for us are:
Parents and children at Lambrook school
Staff at Virgin Media in Green Park, Reading
Staff at Sage in Winnersh
Parents and children at Crosfields School
Staff at Skillsoft in Bracknell
Staff CDK Global in Hungerford
Staff Lloyds Register in Bracknell
Parents and children at Sonning CofE school
Members of Woolhampton & Midgham WI
And wonderful volunteers Chrissie & Ken
Ho Ho Ho!
We had a great time at the Toad Hall Garden Centre Christmas grotto on Saturday. Thank you so much to Henley Lions for making First Days one of the charities supported by the grotto this year.
Wokingham Winter Carnival
There was fantastic atmosphere at the Winter Carnival. Lots of visitors to our stand, the sun was out, the snow machines was amazing and the stand next to was is selling mulled prosecco and Christmas gin!
A massive thanks to the Woodley and Earley Lions, who came to visit us in Hurst and handed over a cheque for £1,000!
The money will go towards funding for the Charity’s new secondary schools uniform project in Woodley.
Presenting the cheque, Lion
President Paul said, “Woodley and
Earley Lions are delighted to
support this exciting
new scheme designed to help
around 200 disadvantaged
children in Woodley”.
We want to say a huge thank you to some of those who have generously donated to our Christmas Trimmings Raffle.
Block and Deck Christmas Trees get consistently recommended on local groups for their great trees, and have kindly donated a 6ft tree to be part of our top prize.
Reading Hexagon have given us a pair of tickets for their ever popular pantomime.
Wokingham's The Haven Wellbeing Hub have also given a £30 voucher to be used against a treatment in the run up to Christmas. All this and more is part of our £400+ First Prize.
Our van is off to Slough again today, fully loaded with everything requested for a record 37 children. This month we’re also able to include Christmas gift boxes filled with stocking fillers courtesy of Lambrook School.
It’s our last such visit this year and we were so pleased to receive an update yesterday from Berkshire Community Foundation to say that funding as been renewed to allow us to continue supporting families in Slough.
This is Gabriel. Earlier this year Gabriel's Dad, Conrad, ran Reading Half Marathon for First Days and raised hundreds of pounds to support our work. Gabriel was so inspired by what his Dad did that when he did a 1 mile race recently he also chose to get sponsored for First Days, and has raised a brilliant £80! Not bad for a 7 year old!
Thank you so much Gabriel.
20 brave souls from Lexmark in Maidenhead spent a day walking a full marathon distance (26 miles) along the Thames and Ridgeway paths to raise money
for First Days.
They raised over
£6000 for First Days.
What a bunch of
Lots and lots of nappies
The amazing staff at Avis in Bracknell borrowed one of our pink bins for their Global IT Diaper Drive and managed to collect this huge pile of nappies for us to give out to local families.
A huge thank you to everyone at the company who donated.
When Jude went walking
Many of our volunteers do so much for the charity when it comes to fundraising and we are forever grateful for their efforts. A big shout out this montages to the amazing Jude who walked 50k for the Thames Path Challenge and raised nearly £1000 for First Days
We need to say another huge THANK YOU
to our wonderful supporters.
After our appeal last week we have been overwhelmed by your generosity. Our toiletry shelves have gone from empty to full, we've got unpacked all these Amazon boxes and still have this pile to open and organise.
Plus a huge amount of items
have been donated from people
stopping in at local supermarkets.
Support for families living in
poverty is often difficult to come
by, so it's fantastic to see what a
brilliant community we have.
As a small charity, funding, especially for day to day costs, is incredibly difficult to come by. We receive no local government or statutory funding and rely solely on our own efforts, applications and supporters to stay operational.
We therefore have to say a HUGE thank you to everyone at MCKS Charitable Foundation for this incredibly generous funding. Our Referrals Coordinators are essential to processing the requirements of struggling families and keeping on top of the requests that we receive - today we gave out referrals for 15-20 children in the three hours that we were open. This money will ensure that we can cover the costs of these vital team members for the next year. Thank you.
All the items that get donated to us have had a special and unique history with their previous owners, but this seemingly normal double buggy being checked by our volunteer Frank is particularly noteworthy!
What Frank is checking is actually a former Guinness World Record holding double buggy. The previous owner - Ellie from Barnes Fitness - used this very pushchair to break the record for fastest half marathon pushing a loaded double buggy (in a remarkable time of 1hr47mins) in March 2017.
Her twins have now grown, and someone
has claimed the record, but the buggy is
still going strong and is being made ready
to go out to a local family in need.A huge
thank you to Ellie for the donation. If you
want to read more about the world record
you can do so here:
Thanks so much to Reading Road Runners (who have chosen us as their charity of the year this year) for inviting #TeamFirstDays to take part in their Bingo Relay. We loved it (all 17 laps!) and have taken absolutely loads of nappies, wipes and toiletries back to our warehouse for distribution to families who need them this week. Thank you!
Emma, Mark and Sarah took on the gruelling 100mile bike ride supporting
and fundraising for First
Days. They all finished in
less than 9 hours. Well done
to you all! If you fancy taking
part next year please look at
our events page for more
Another busy day at First Days HQ getting the next batch of school uniform dispatched ready for September. Thank you to the team of amazing volunteers from Wokingham Lions who spend hours laundering items donated in our pink bins across Wokingham.
Our founder and Chair of Trustees, Emma, discussed the problem of high priced school uniform with Sky News this week:
"we treat everything we give to families as a gift and we make it really clear that it's because school uniform is too expensive that they can't afford it.
"It's not because of something they've done or something that's a failure on their part."
As term ends, you can donate clean, good condition school uniform at our collection points across Wokingham. Locations are listed on our website: www.firstdays.net/pink-bins
Join our campaign to #makesuniformsaffordablewww.firstdays.net/affordable-uniforms
Affordable school uniform
A Safe Place to Sleep
Last year we gave out an average of 13 beds each month. In the last 3 months (the first quarter of our new financial year) this number has risen to an average of 22 - that's a 70% increase.
That's 66 children who, since 1st April, have been provided with a safe place to sleep as a direct result of everyone who has donated a bed, cotbed, cot, moses basket or bedding to us. A huge thank you to all of you from us, and the families that we help.
In line with safe sleeping guidelines, we also buy a new mattress for every bed that we give out. Mattresses cost an average of £25 each, so that means we have spent over £1600 just on mattresses since April.
Celebrating one year at our Hurst warehouse and celebrating our lovely volunteers with coffee and cakes.
These boots are made for walking
We need to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU to Debbie Beeching for donating literally hundreds of pairs of brand new shoes to First Days. Debbie used to own Little Shoe Box in Sunninghill and the shoes are leftover stock from her time running the business.
So many children will have great new shoes as a result.
And we also need to say another thank you to John Shaw for helping collect the shoes and bringing a huge van load to our offices for sorting.
WOKINGHAM WALK 2019
We we're lucky enough to be one of the two charities the event supported when it ran in May and
today they popped in to the office
to see us and present is with a
cheque for a whopping £1000!
A huge thanks to The oganisers,
and everyone who took part in this
amazing community event.
We are saying a huge welcome to the First Days team to Megan!
Megan is a student at Reading University and is joining us on a 6 week internship, funded through the University's scheme. While she's here she'll be helping with our school uniform project in the lead up to the summer holidays.
Mattea & Dave Triathlon
The fantastic Mattea and Dave completed the Blenheim Palace
Triathlon on Sunday 2nd June. They
didn't just do it for the medal and free
banana at the end. They are also raised
almost £800 for First Days, helping us
support struggling families with
Father's Days Toy Exchange at The Oracle, Reading
A huge thanks to The Oracle for supporting First Days with this event! The toy exchange brought lots of great toy donations to the charity and help raise awareness about the charity in central Reading.
Two rather remarkable ladies
from Tumble Tots Reading have
taken on two amazing challenges
for First Days recently.
Helen took part in Southport Triathlon on 19th May. Nicky took on the 10km Jubliee River swim on 9th June. They have raised over £1200, which is just incredible, and we thank them a million times for choosing to support First Days.
On the Cover of
The Wokingham Paper
The main story in this week's Wokingham Paper is about the rise in child poverty in the town. Coincidentally, First Days is also pictured on the cover at our stand at last weekend's Wokingham Walk, where we were one of this year's charity beneficiaries.
With the number of children living in poverty on the rise (and referrals to First Days increasing accordingly), support from community groups and events like these are vital to help keep us running and supporting local families. Thank you to Wokingham Walk and everyone who does so much to help us.
A massive thanks to Claire at Buggyfit - Reading. She held a class on Monday and instead of the usual payment she asked for donations of toiletries for First Days and had this amazing response.
Thank you so much to all the wonderful workout mums and to Claire for your support. It really does make a huge difference to First Days and the families we support.
She's only gone and done it!
Massive congratulations to Zoe Browne for completing the London Marathon in under 5 hours and raising nearly £1000 for First Days in the process.
Easter Bunny visit
The kind people at Morgan McKinley Recruitment in Maidenhead came by and donated 75 easter eggs. We are sure the families we help will enjoy having a chocolate treat this Easter.
Day at the Races!
We have been working with Ascot Racecourse recently after they helped fund work we are doing in Slough.
On Sunday March 31st they had one of their regular Spring Family Racedays. We were honoured that they named one of their races after the charity, helping raise the profile of the work that we do with families across Berkshire.
The owner of First Days Emma Cantrell was invited to come along to present the trophy to the winner of the 'First Days Charity Novices' Handicap Steeple Chase'.
Mother's Day treats
Ahead of Mother's Day on Sunday, we need to say a massive thank you to two of our volunteers - Catherine and Katie.
They have galvanised their friends and contacts and between them have put together approximately 80 mother's day packs, which we have been giving outwith referrals all this month.
On March 21st we held our first pop-up outreach service in Slough. Thanks to funding from Berkshire Community Foundation and Ascot Racecourse we've been able to start this project to take the support First Days offers to a community children's centre in Slough. We'll be visiting every month to help provide essentials to families in the town where 30% of children are living in poverty.
Thanks for choosing us to be your Charity of the Year!
Lexmark Social Committee
Wellington College - Wellesley House
- Broderers House
Play Date with Sage
Slightly different corporate lunch today for the People Leadership Team from Sage! A presentation from us and a puzzle and sock sorting session!
RUN BABY RUN
The Sage Reading Half Marathon and Green Park Challenge took place Sunday March 17th. We had 15 runners running for First Days all sporting our First Days branded running tops. All the runners did brilliantly and was cheered along the way by many First Days supporters.
There is still money coming in for our runners, but it looks like the grand total is going to be around the £7000 mark, which is FANTASTIC!
Our friends at Reading Roadrunners were also selling drinks and sweet treats for hungry runners and raised a staggering £676!