THE Swindon Christmas Toy Appeal is returning for the fourth year in a row.

The campaign, which starts today, is run by churches across the borough and aims to help families who would otherwise struggle to put presents under the tree for their children.

Toy Appeal co-ordinator at Gateway Church Dawn Prosser said: “There are many families who struggle at Christmas to buy presents and either can’t give any or resort to massive loans.

“Particularly now, a lot of people are in very difficult circumstances and I don’t think that situation is going to get any easier.”

She added: “For this year, and maybe even for next year, as the furlough schemes finishes, more and more people that normally wouldn’t struggle will begin to do so because they’ve been made redundant. So I think it’s more important than ever to help people who are less fortunate.”

Between today and December 17, churches, businesses, schools, and organisations across Swindon will be gathering donations of presents for children aged 0-16.

Families will be nominated to receive presents by agencies including social services, parent support advisors in schools, health visitors and local charities.

Dawn first came up with the idea for the appeal four years go when she was running Gateway Furniture.

“It became obvious through talking to the agencies and talking to people who were getting furniture that there was a need for something like this, said Dawn.

“So we did a smaller thing at Gateway and then it grew from there.

“It’s sad in one way that it’s grown so much, but it’s also a real privilege to be able to help families and stop them resorting to loans,” she said.

Normally families are invited to come and choose their presents each year, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic a more detailed referral form including children’s ages, likes and dislikes will be passed to Dawn and her volunteers,to help them pick the presents for each child.

“We’ll be able to match the information as closely as possible to the toys, so hopefully children will still get things they like.

Dawn is also appealing for more donation points, having lost many which have closed because of the pandemic.

“We are still looking for a few more donation points so if you can help in this way, please get in touch,” Dawn said.

If you can provide a donation point nemail

All current location points for donations and toy suggestions can be found on and the Facebook page swindontoyappeal.

Alternatively, financial donations can be made for the first time this year via