It’s better to give

Frank with gifts donated to children at Whipps Cross Hospital last year Frank with gifts donated to children at Whipps Cross Hospital last year

Wanstead resident Frank Charles – who, we are pleased to say, has recently received the gift of a cancer-free declaration after an eight-year battle – invites donations of toys and food for his charity projects.

The Frank Charles Give a Gift Appeal (FCGAGA) is a small local charity based in Wanstead, which is now in its third year. I set it up in memory of my first son, Ashley, who died at 23 months of age from a rare illness called Hirschsprung's disease. I was also born with this condition and spent my early childhood years in Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Fifteen years ago, I began delivering presents to sick children who were in Acorn Ward at Whipps Cross Hospital at Christmastime as a tribute to Ashley. It became a registered charity three years ago and also grants wishes to children and adults with life-limiting illnesses throughout the year.

Two years ago, FCGAGA diversified to incorporate Feed The Streetz, a project which sources and distributes breakfasts to rough sleepers once a week in Wanstead, Waltham Forest, Leyton, Leytonstone, Stratford, Ilford and Plaistow. This is done with the support of a few kind-hearted local people who supply donations of food either weekly or monthly. The project also receives regular donations from Greggs in Wanstead and the Haslers Foundation in Loughton.

When I was younger I lost my job and, as a result, found myself homeless for a week. Since then, I have had a great deal of sympathy for people who, for reasons often beyond their control, are living on the streets.

I was fortunate in that, when I was homeless, there was provision for people like me and I was offered a place in a hostel. Unfortunately, in the current financial climate, safeguards such as this have largely been cut. Most people do not choose to live out of a carrier bag, sleeping on cardboard boxes, alone and afraid. There are many reasons for homelessness: breakdown of relationships, loss of a job and mental health problems, to name a few.

Feed The Streetz is run once a week for families and individuals on low incomes who are in need of support for one month. They are then referred on to another food bank that may also support them for a limited period of time. The food bank is always in need of non-perishable food and toiletries throughout the year and welcomes your support. I strongly believe that no one should go hungry, regardless of their circumstances.

FCGAGA would also welcome donations of new toys for this year's Christmas toy appeal, which will be delivered to Acorn children's ward on 20 December.

The deadline for the donation of toys is 18 December. For more information about Frank's charity work and to make a donation, visit frankcharles.org.uk or call 07782 218 112


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