Libraries open for gift donations as council plays Santa for Covid-hit families

Getting started in Brixton library (l-r) Cllr Scarlett O’Hara, library staffer Caroline, Cllr Anna Birley, Cllr Jess Leigh and Cllr Irfan Mohammed

All Lambeth libraries are open until 19 December for donations of toys and books for local children who might otherwise not get a Christmas present.

Council staff will deliver the presents.

Thurlow Park ward councillor Anna Birley, who is organising the collections, said the pandemic is still having a significant impact on families, with many finding it hard to afford presents.

Clearly marked crates will be available in every borough library during opening hours until Saturday 19 December.

“We welcome both new toys and books, and pre-loved ones if they’re good quality, working with nothing damaged or missing, and clean,” said Birley.

“We’re building in quarantine time – 24 hours for paper and 72 hours for plastic – for all donations.”

Volunteers will check, sort, clean, and wrap gifts at libraries, ready for Lambeth social workers to deliver via council vans or volunteer drivers.

Some families will get presents next week and some will be delivered just in time for Christmas.

Each present will have a tag attached explaining what is in the parcel.

“Our social workers will pick out age-appropriate gifts for the young people they work with, and parents can cut off the tag before Christmas – a bit like tear-off price tags,” said Birley.

Donations of items not suitable for gifts, like clothes for older kids, or even food, we will be passed to charities.

MPs’ casework teams, foodbanks and people with similar knowledge of who might need a present can get in touch to make referrals for families they would like to see included.

Details and contacts

Library addresses and opening times on Lambeth council’s website

020 7926 0750