PCSO Kylie Barclay standing next to tables filled with children's toys
PCSO Kylie Barclay standing amongst collected toys in 'The Grotto'. Image: Poppy Atkinson Gibson

Mum starts ‘free toy shop’ to put smile on struggling families’ faces this Christmas

Kylie Barclay wants to help children as the cost of living crisis grows

A MUM has created a grotto of free toys to give out to children this Christmas after being overhwhelmed by the response to her idea to help struggling families.

Kylie Barclay, a South Wales Community Police officer, started a charity toy drive in the Llandaff North and Gabalfa Hyb with the aim of providing children’s toys and books this Christmas, totally free of charge.

The mother of one said that she and her husband “put feelers out” for interest on Facebook after hearing people discussing being unable to afford Christmas this year and within a week had filled one of the rooms in the community centre, which has been nick-named ‘The Grotto’.

The toy scheme will open for two hours a day, seven days a week and will begin on Thursday, December 1. It will operate a ‘one in, one out’ system to make it as discreet as possible and allow families time to look at everything before taking what they need.

Kylie stressed that the service would be a ‘no questions asked’ arrangement and families are free to take as much as they need, including wrapping paper and gift bags.

Tables of children’s toys and books

Kylie is unsure what the uptake will be but confirmed that she would continue to run the scheme until the December 20 stating that “even if it’s just one board game for one kid” then it would be worth it.

The scheme itself does not receive any funding and is being supported by a community which has “dug deep”.

Kylie said The Hyb, where she is baded for her work as a PCSO, has been worth their weight in gold.

She hopes the toy drive will “give people a chance to speak to PCSOs” and help her work with the community.

Poster advertising the free toy ‘shop’

The PCSO has plans to roll out the scheme beyond just Gabalfa and is looking to work with Barnardo’s and other local charities as well as Cardiff Youth Offending services and Women’s Refuges and hopes that, if the charity drive is a success, that it could become an annual event.

The Hyb manager, Joe Boyle, said that Gabalfa was more fortunate than other areas due to its affluence but was concerned for other part of Cardiff such as Ely.

The toy scheme is continuing to take donations of books and toys in good, clean condition and the shop itself will open on December 1. For any queries call the Llandaff and Gabalfa Hyb on 029 2078 5588.