Mother and daughter alumni team Karen and Ash Downing are hoping to transform the lives of children in Liverpool through a festive-themed charity appeal.
In 2013, Karen and a friend founded Pyjama Party Liverpool, which aims to collect new pyjamas to donate to youngsters who are homeless at Christmas.
Now in its seventh year, the charity has gone from strength-to-strength and running the appeal has become a family affair.
This year Liverpool Hope has become a collection point for pyjama donations, and staff and students from across the Liverpool Hope community are coming together to help make a difference this festive season.
Working together is not the only thing the mother-daughter duo have in common, they also both studied at Liverpool Hope University. Karen graduated in 2006 after studying Psychology, while Ash graduated in 2012.
Karen said: “I was working in homelessness services when I started my degree a BA in Psychology with Identity Studies, and my dissertation was on the impact of domestic abuse. This gave me the opportunity to visit women staying in refuges, with their families. I knew first-hand the devastating impact of having to leave abusive situations, often with just what you could carry or even in the clothes you were wearing, to make it to a place of safety.
“When I graduated, I continued to work with families who were experiencing homelessness for a variety of reasons. Ash had starting working in early years during the second year of her degree in Childhood and Youth with Sociology, and continued this role after graduation.
“In November 2013, I came across a social media post from Shelter, the homelessness charity, which stated that 80,000 children in Britain would be homeless on Christmas Day. I really felt compelled to help, in some small way, the children who were living locally and Pyjama Party Liverpool was born. Our appeal is now in its seventh year and last year we collected 4,218 pairs of gorgeous cosy, warm pyjamas, which were distributed across the five boroughs of Merseyside and beyond!
“We are able to help not only children who are homeless on Christmas Day, but also children who are living in really vulnerable situations. Children who may not otherwise get to wear new pyjamas on Christmas Eve, offering them a little bit of kindness and comfort during a difficult period in their lives. Pyjamas seem like such a small thing, but it’s an unwritten law in Liverpool to have a new pair for Christmas Eve and we don’t want the kids to miss out, just because things are tough.
“Ash and I co-ordinate the appeal and run things, but we are all volunteers; along with the really strong community that has grown around the appeal. Individuals and business offer to be a collection point for the pyjama donations, people who volunteer their time and skills, sorting, packing, collecting and distributing, and above all the really generous and warm-hearted people who buy pyjamas to donate each year - without all of these amazing people, Pyjama Party Liverpool just would not be possible.”