Give the gift of Christmas to a prisoner's child

Every year, 200,000 children experience the distress and heartache of losing someone they love due to imprisonment. These children will deal with shame, embarrassment, stigma and loneliness - and they often live in households with parents or carers who themselves may be struggling to cope. Prisoners' children are a largely hidden and forgotten group. And Christmas can be a particularly lonely and painful time for them.

This year, with your help, Pact is working to ensure that these children get the best possible Christmas. Operation Christmas Elf gives you the opportunity to show a little love and care for children with a parent in prison this Christmas. 

How does it work?

Our project is simple. We provide parishes with a special Gift Sack and invite donations of gifts that would appeal to the wide range of children supported by Pact. Our volunteer Christmas Elves then collect the presents to sort and wrap in our Santa's Grotto (our Family Visitors' Centre outside HMP Wormwood Scrubs) and deliver them to the children at our Family Visitors' Centres. With your help we can spread a little Christmas cheer to families and children who are separated at Christmas. 

That sounds great! How do I get my parish involved?

Operation Christmas Elf is currently working to bring a smile to a prisoner's child in the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, the Diocese of Southwark and the Diocese of Westminster. If you're based in one of more of these places and want to get involved please get in touch with our Chief Elf at [email protected] or by calling 020 7735 9535 and asking for Operation Elf. We'll send you everything you need! Don't worry if you're not based in these places - there are still plenty of other ways you can get involved with our work through volunteering or making a donation.

Can I get involved as an individual?

Yes! We'd love to have your support. We're always on the lookout for volunteer Christmas Elves who can help us collect, sort and wrap the presents that have been donated. Find out more about the role and requirements or contact us on [email protected] for more details. 

What kind of gifts are welcome?

Most of the children we see are 0-8 years old but we do also see teenagers up to 18 years old in our services. We would love you to donate:

  • New, unused children's toys, books, colouring books and creative play sets.
  • Family board games suitable for wide age ranges.
  • Baby gifts such as clothing, small cuddly and sensory toys, soothers and baby books.
  • Gifts for teenagers such as books, bath sets, winter accessories and gift cards/vouchers.

We're sorry but due to security regulations we can't accept:

  • Second-hand or used items.
  • Any electronic or battery-operated toys.
  • Toy guns/weapons.
  • Modelling clay/plasticine/slime or anything made of wax.
  • Edible items such as sweets or chocolates.

Last year, thanks to your generosity, Pact ensured over 1,000 children felt loved and remembered with their own special Christmas gift. This year, with your support, we want to help even more children in need.