IT is hard to imagine that an area as affluent as Reading suffers from crippling poverty.

For many families it is a daily reality and one that becomes all the more apparent at Christmas.

With the fourth-highest average weekly wage in the UK and a selection of top international companies on our doorstep, deprivation can often hide behind the smokescreen of the town's thriving economy.

A recent study shows nearly a quarter of Reading's young people are living in poverty.

That is why, every year, Reading Family Aid organises the Toys and Teens Appeal, to provide respite to families from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Isabelle*, a support worker from a school in Reading, has been working with these families for nine years.

She said “I have known a family with two primary school aged children be so hard up for money that they could not afford to put the heating on and would sit with quilts covering themselves.

“Food banks are often heavily relied upon, with donations sometimes being the only source of food families have to get by."

When asked about the difference the Toys and Teens Appeal makes to these families, she added: “It is immense. You provided them with toys, which I am in no doubt they could not afford.

"If they did buy them the family would have had to go without something else.”

Sponsored by The Reading Chronicle, the annual campaign provides new or 'as-new' gifts to children aged 0-16 and our newspaper is acting as a donation point this year.

Last year, gifts were delivered to 1,500 disadvantaged children from more than 600 families in time for Christmas. With the help of the local community, it is hoped there will be even more packages under the tree in 2018.

Charlie McLean, publicity manager for Reading Family Aid, added: "Whether you are sorting out your toy box, Christmas shopping for the young people in your life, or you are able to organise a collection at your place of work or school, please donate a gift for a child who would appreciate it more than you know."

Visit: for more information.

*Name changed

Full list of donation points:

  • Sainsbury’s, Bath Road, RG31 1SA. Mon-Sat: 7am -10pm. Sun: 10am - 4pm
  • Caversham Homecraft, Church Road, RG4 8AU. Mon-Sat: 9am -5pm.
  • Caversham Library, Church Road, RG4 8AU. Mon & Wed: Closed, Tues & Fri: 9am- 5pm, Thurs: 1pm -7pm, Sat: 10am-3pm.
  • New Bridge Nursery Montague Street, RG4 5AU. Mon-Fri: 8am-4pm.
  • Crescent Centre, Warbler Drive, Earley, RG6 4HB - Mon-Thurs: 8.30am-6pm, Fri: 8.30am - 3.30pm.
  • Hillside Primary School, Rushey Way, RG6 4HQ. Mon-Friday 9am-3pm.
  • Lower Earley Library Chalfont Close, RG6 5HZ. Mon and Fri: 9.30am-5pm, Tue and Thurs: 9.30am-7pm, Sat: 9.30am-4pm.
  • Purley Farmers’ Market, The Barn, Beech Road, RG8 8DS. Saturday, November 10 only.
  • Big Yellow Storage, Rose Kiln Lane, RG2 0JZ. Mon-Fri: 8am-6pm, Sat: 9am - 6pm, Sun: 10am - 4pm.
  • Southcote Children’s Centre, Coronation Square Southcote, RG30 3QP. Mon-Thurs: 9-5pm, Fri: 9-4.30pm.
  • Southcote Library, RG30 3BA. Tue & Thurs: 9am-12pm & 1-4pm, Fri: 9am-12pm, Sat: 10am-1pm.
  • Spencers Wood Library, Basingstoke Road, RG6 7HS. Mon: 2.30pm–7pm, Tue: 2.30pm-5pm, Thurs: 10am-12.30pm & 2.30pm-5pm, Sat: 10am- 12.30pm.
  • Norcot Early Years Centre, Lyndhurst Road, RG30 6UB. Mon-Fri: 8.30am-4pm.
  • Co-op Tilehurst, School Road, RG31 5AR. Mon-Sat: 7am -10pm, Sun: 10am-4pm.
  • Tilehurst Library, School Road, RG31 6AS. Mon & Fri: 9am - 5pm, Tue: 9-11, Thurs: 9am-7pm. Sat: 9.30-4pm.
  • Birch Copse Primary School, Wittenham Avenue, RG31 5LN. Mon-Fri: 9.15am-2.45pm.
  • Reading Voluntary Action, 3rd Floor, Reading Central Library, RG1 3BQ. Mon-Fri: 10am-4pm.
  • Sainsbury’s, Friar Street, RG1 1DX. Mon-Sat: 7am-9pm, Sun 11am-5pm.
  • Civic Centre, Bridge Street, RG1 2LU. Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm.
  • The Reading Chronicle, RG1 2LU. Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm.
  • Reading Farmers’ Market, Great Knollys Street, RG1 7HD. Sat: 8.30am-12 noon on November 17 and December 1 only.
  • World Shop, London Street, RG1 4PS. Mon-Fri: 9.30am-6pm.
  • Interserve, Ruscombe Park, Twyford RG10 9JU. Mon-Fri: 8.30am-5pm.
  • Battle Library, Oxford Road, RG30 1EE. Tue: 1-7pm, Thurs 9am-5pm, Fri 9-12, Sat: 10am-3pm.
  • Winnersh Primary, Greenwood Grove, RG41 5LH. Mon-Fri: 10am-2pm.
  • Willow Bank Junior School, Duffield Road, RG5 4RW. Mon-Fri: 8.30am-4.30pm.
  • Woodley Library, Headley Road, RG5 4JA. Mon: 9am-1pm, Tue, Wed, Fri: 9am-5pm, Thurs: 9am-7pm. Sat: 9.30am-4pm. Sun: 10.30am-4pm.
  • The Oakwood Centre, Headley Road, RG5 4JZ. Mon-Sat: 9am-5pm.