LEISURE centres have launched a Christmas toy appeal to help families facing financial hardship this festive season.

Basingstoke Aquadrome and Tadley Health and Fitness Centre have launched a charity drive to collect new, unwrapped toys this Christmas to donate to families in need.

The leisure centres are partnering with Family Action, a charity working to provide practical, emotional, and financial support to families.

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A toy appeal last year led by the charity received over 10,000 donations, to ensure children had presents under their Christmas tree.

One in seven parents/carers won’t be able to afford to buy presents for their children this Christmas due to financial constraints, according to a survey from the charity.

Guy Baber, contract manager for the Basingstoke and Deane Community Leisure Trust, said: “We’re very proud to be partnering with Family Action, supporting the amazing work they do all year round to help families throughout the UK and abroad.

“Knowing 14 per cent of parents/carers are saying they cannot afford presents for their children is a heart-breaking statistic, but you can bank on the generosity of the people who work at and visit our centre. We’ll be going all out to collect as many toys as we can."

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David Holmes CBE, chief executive of Family Action, said: “Every family deserves comfort and joy at Christmas, but with the high costs of food and utilities, many will find their holiday season stressful and difficult, and it does seem, this year, that Christmas magic is in short supply.

“This is where organisations like Basingstoke and Deane Community Leisure Trust come in and we want to thank all of their staff and customers for their extremely generous donations.

"With their support, more families will have a special gift for their children and together, we can keep the magic of Christmas alive.”

Toy collection boxes will be in the reception areas of each leisure centre until Monday, December 11. After that date, Family Action will collect all items and distribute them around the UK, bringing some much-needed joy to families facing tough times.

All toys are welcome; however, the charity is calling for donations of family toys and games.

For more information, visit basingstokeleisure.com.