Yes! I’ve decided to award myself the badge. Because what, after all, is the point of claiming to be the ruler of all you survey, if you can’t even have a badge to prove it?

Anyway, this post will be sticky until 22nd March. Any new posts will remain underneath it until I decide to un-sticky it.

We’re looking for toys to give to the Northern Refugee Centre, because they are lovely. More importantly, although they are lovely and run womens’ conversation clubs that we thoroughly approve of, they don’t have any toys to entertain children with. And, as you can imagine, there will be some women who’d like to come along, but don’t feel they can converse with a small child pulling at their ear because they’re bored.

So, we’re helping out. We’re looking for clean, safe, sensible toys. If you have any spare, they might as well be donated to the Refugee Centre as to Oxfam, or wherever else you might send them to. We’re happy to collect, within reason, and you can get hold of us either by using the email addresses provided on the contact page, or by calling Jude directly on 01142 660434.

In the “toys we’d like” list:

  • books for all ages – cardboard books for young children would be nice, as would any bilingual books of any kind.
  • building blocks, stackable buckets, big “shape” puzzles, big dumper/ tipper trucks and other “construction” type toys
  • “tea party” style sets (or even single items), as long as they’re not so small they can be choked on – so plastic cups, plates, fake tins of food etc are fine, utensils are probably best avoided

In the “toys we can’t take” list:

  • any kind of war-related items. Please don’t give guns, swords, tanks, action men etc.
  • cuddly toys. They’re lovely, but are not the most washable of items.
  • battery-operated or noisy toys.
  • toys with lots of small parts. We have to assume that there will be toddlers around, so please don’t give anything that might be eaten!
  • pens, crayons, pencils etc. Guaranteed, somebody will draw on the walls.

Obviously, these are just suggestions. Feel free to give anything you think might be appropriate. If we, with the Northern Refugee Centre, decide that, on balance, we can’t take what’s been given, it will be donated to the nearest charity shop. One way or another, we’ll find good homes for the toys. Happy donating, everybody!