Huge response to Derry appeal

Christine McGrath and Jacqueline Williamson with some of the collection of toys donated. (2602Jb23)
Christine McGrath and Jacqueline Williamson with some of the collection of toys donated. (2602Jb23)

The woman behind an appeal to collect toys and clothes for three children who have been relocated to Derry after the sudden death of their mother says she has been completely overwhelmed by the generosity of people locally.

Jacqueline Williamson is a volunteer with ‘Support Kinship Care.’ Her work involves reaching out to families where children are being looked after by relatives in the event of their parents not being able to care for them.

Last week, Jacqueline appealed to the Derry public on Facebook on behalf of three children who were uprooted from their home in Englad after the death of their mother. Now being cared for by relatives in the North West, the children had very little toys and clothes because of the sudden nature of the move.

“They had lost everything familiar to them and the biggest loss of all was their mum,” says Jacqueline. “I just decided we would try and gather a few things for them and put out an appeal and the response was unbelievable.

“We got so many toys and clothes and I can’t wait now to hand them over to these children and their relatives who I know will be so, so grateful for them.”

Jacqueline says the generosity of local children has been particularly touching.

“One child donated an ipod, another child donated her Winnie the Pooh book collection and another child drew a picture of her and her granny and grandad and younger sister with ‘My mummy is in heaven too’ written on it.”

Jacqueline has been left close to tears at the overwhelming kindness shown by local people in the wake of the heartfelt plea for donations.

She says there are many families and children in a similar situation.

“There are hundreds of people in a situation where they’ve taken in a relative’s children for whatever reason be it death or the fact that the child’s parents are not able or allowed to look after them. Often there will be formal arrangements in place and a lot of time informal agreements where grandparents or other relatives take over the care of a child so that they don’t go into foster care. The majority of these family carers don’t know their financial entitlements and it can be really really tough in those early months. That’s where we’re here to help.”

If you’d like to help you can find Kinship care Northern Ireland on Facebook or contact Jacqueline directly on 07515478885