Two Walthamstow mums have teamed up to launch a Christmas gifts drive to ensure women and children fleeing abuse and domestic violence will not be forgotten this festive season.

Laura Hartley and Jules Carey hope to collect 100 presents to donate to those who will spend Christmas in refuges run by Solace Women’s Aid.

The idea for Walthamstow Secret Santa came to Mrs Hartley after she read a quote from a woman in a safe house who had received a gift.

It read: “I wanted to say how much receiving those gifts meant to me, and it overwhelmed me, leaving me really, really happy and feeling cared for. I’ve had a really good day today, and I haven’t had one of those for a month or so, so thank you so much."

Mrs Carey decided to get on board with her friend’s plans as the two shared a common desire to encourage their children to think of those less fortunate at Christmas.

“Christmas can be a lot of fun for most of us, but for someone spending it in a shelter, while escaping violence and abuse, it is literally and figuratively one of the darkest days,” said Mrs Hartley.

“A thoughtful gift can put a smile on anyone’s face, so why not extend that joy to someone who could really do with a bit more light in their life?”

The pair are keen to remind the women of their self-worth and give the children a sense of joy and excitement and believe donating gifts is the best way to do this.

Solace is a London-based charity that has been supporting women and children for more than 40 years to build safe and strong lives, with futures free from abuse and violence.

It runs 19 shelters across the capital where it helps over 8,000 thousand women and 2,000 children every year.

The charity has provided a list of suggested gifts, with all of them being new, preferably unwrapped, and at a suggested value of up to £20. Cards with messages of support with the gifts are also welcome.

The cut-off date to donate gifts to Walthamstow Secret Santa is Friday, December 7.

For more information or to find out how you can donate a gift, email