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Despite a global pandemic We supported over 120,000 street children and their families

Annual report | 2021

Welcome From the chair and CEO of Toybox

This year, street children have faced unimaginable additional challenges as a result of COVID-19. National restrictions have made finding food and earning money harder than ever and fears over the virus spreading have caused communities to vilify and blame children on the streets.

To respond to these challenges, we’ve had to adapt and innovate, and our partners have taken incredible risks to ensure they can continue to provide much-needed support. Without your support, none of this would have been possible.

Working with street children is by its nature challenging, working with street children during a global pandemic – well, we can’t quite find the right words to describe this desperation. This struggle however pales in comparison to the despair experienced by children living and working on the streets over the last twelve months.

Our eternal gratitude is extended to each and every one of Toybox supporters who gave and prayed so generously this year. Additionally, we would like to thank our volunteers, wonderful trustees and exceptional international partners who have continued to amaze us this year.

Street children are often invisible to those who choose not to see them. But together we see them. Thank you.

Read more

Ian Gray

Chair of the Toybox Board

Lynne Morris

CEO of Toybox

Ian Gray

Chair of the Toybox Board

Lynne Morris

CEO of Toybox

Impact What we’ve achieved

Our second year of responding to COVID-19

The challenge

Street children and their families have been extremely vulnerable to not only the negative health implications of COVID-19, but also the economic impacts. Lockdowns and the long-term effects of the pandemic has led to significant challenges around food, shelter, and hygiene.

This year

Over the last 12 months, we have worked closely with all our partners, responding quickly and adapting our activities to meet children’s ever-changing needs. Our emergency response this year has included support to over 8,000 children and their families.

The impact

8,038 children and families affected by COVID-19 given emergency support
2,626 children and family members provided with hygience kits
1,145 stationery kits provided to support learning when schools closed

Adapting during a pandemic

COVID-19 took its grip during the last quarter of our previous financial period to which we responded by re-allocating up to 20% of project budgets to emergency response activities and adapted existing activities around lockdown restrictions, curfews and protocols in each country. By the beginning of this financial year, the situation had improved to an extent in most of the countries that we work in, which allowed some programme activities to take place as planned. However, some countries then experienced second and third waves with varying intensity.

Toybox works through local partners to support children who are either living and/or working on the streets. Additionally, we support vulnerable families who are at risk of becoming street living or street connected. Unfortunately, the situation for many of the families we supports who are often dependant on daily labour for survival, has become even more desperate in the last year. COVID-19 also continued to restrict many of our partners’ activities, particularly those targeting larger groups of children and caregivers.

Ways in which we adapted In response
to COVID-19
  • education and sports activities moving online
  • counselling sessions being held over the phone
  • trainings and evaluations being delivered virtually

Related stories


Emergency Response • India • 2021

For families like 11-year-old Sahana’s, the pandemic meant no opportunity for work and no income. Street families and migrants were also left out of government ration distributions. Emergency food, hygiene kits, and educational materials offered a vital lifeline to many. Newly installed handwashing stations in slum communities meant street children could keep themselves clean and safe.

Read Sahana's story


Emergency Response • Nepal • 2021

School closures around the world caused children to miss out not only on learning, but also support such as lunchtime meals. In Nepal, our partner’s learning centres were forced to close, which meant children like Sejun, needed urgent help. As well as distributing emergency food, frontline teams also provided telephone counselling to manage children’s mental health during lockdowns.

Read Sejun's story


We are thankful to Toybox for the support shown during the pandemic. Without your prompt decisions, hundreds of street children would have suffered more severely during the pandemic.

SathSath, Toybox International Partner, Nepal

I am extremely grateful and happy to not only receive the ration and household materials but getting health and hygiene kits and the stationery kit. Now I can protect myself from Covid and can also continue my studies.

Project participant, India

Further emergency support

This year

Our emergency response this year also included responding to two devastating fires where we work in Sierra Leone and India which left thousands of already vulnerable people homeless and many injured.

Emergency support was provided to street children and their families including food rations, education supplies, uniforms, and hygiene supplies. Medical care was also given to those injured and children were offered counselling to help them cope with what they had gone through.

The impact

865 children and young people provided with emergency support
480 families in Dehli given food, hygiene and packs and other essentials
101 families in Sierra Leone given food, hygiene and packs and other essentials

Related stories

Freetown slum fire

Emergency Response • Sierra Leone • 2021

Fire broke out in the slums of Freetown, Sierra Leone on the evening of 25th March 2021 sweeping through a crowded slum community, home to thousands of street-connected families. Toybox’s partner works with street children living in the slum, who are said to have fled their homes with nothing but the clothes they were wearing at the time.

Read story

Related news

Birth registration

The challenge

This year, our birth registration work has been more vital than ever, as in countries around the world, children who were not registered were denied access to government programmes and emergency assistance in response to COVID-19.

This year

Over the last 12 months, the majority of our birth registration work has taken place in Guatemala, thanks to a strong partnership with local government. In Nepal, we supported street children who had been forced to drop out of school because they did not have the necessary legal documents. Thankfully, these children can now continue with their studies.

The impact

2,259 children and young people now have legal identity documents
1,430 children and families had their birth registered in Guatemala
35 street children provided education despite a lack of legal document

First steps

Being registered is the first step to gaining lifelong protection and a prerequisite to being able to exercise all other rights.

In the UK, a birth certificate has little obvious impact on our daily lives, but for children living on the margins of society, this official document can mean the difference between life and death. In many countries, children are not routinely registered at birth. This means they are invisible to authorities and may miss out on opportunities such as education and healthcare.

Without access to these basic rights, children are more likely to end up working on the streets to support themselves or their family.

Without their official registration documents a child is invisible to their government, however they become extremely visible to those wishing to abuse them through organised crime gangs, sexual exploitation, child labour, child marriage and human trafficking.

Related stories


Emergency Response • Bolivia • 2021

Being officially registered in Bolivia meant that 11-year-old Angela and her family were able to receive grants during the pandemic from the government. Before the pandemic, Angela had worked selling sweets and cared for her younger siblings at home. Armed with her new birth certificate, she was able to register at school ready for when it re-opened.

Read Angela's story


Birth Registration • Bolivia • 2020

When the pandemic hit Bolivia and the national lockdown followed, 5-year-old Kevin’s new birth certificate played an important part in protecting his rights. Because he has a legal identity, his family were able to receive emergency food vouchers. Should Kevin have gotten sick and needed to visit the hospital, his birth certificate meant he could access the medical care he needs.

Read Kevin's story


Birth Registration • Bolivia • 2021

Before Ines had her birth certificate, she worked on the streets alongside her parents, who were also unregistered. Now Ines and her family are registered, she has enrolled into school and can receive government vouchers aimed at vulnerable families for things like transport, books and uniforms. Ines’ parents have also found formal employment and are looking forward to opening a bank account.

Read Ines' story


With my ID I go to school; I have friends and I want to buy a house for my grandmother and my sisters.

Blanca, 5, Bolivia

Before I had my ID, I felt sad. My parents couldn’t find work anywhere because they didn’t have their birth certificates either. It was difficult for them, walking around selling every day. Sometimes it was freezing cold, other times it was raining. Some days, we didn’t manage to sell anything which meant we didn’t have money to buy food. Now, I feel so happy because my whole family has their ID cards. I’m enrolled in school; I get school vouchers and can go to an after-school club to get help with my homework. We can also travel, and my parents have new jobs. My dream when I grow up is to be a vet.

Ines, 9, Bolivia

and vocational training

The challenge

Street children face unique barriers stopping them from accessing their education and each of the countries we work in has complex challenges when it comes to enrolling and keeping street children in school.

This year

Where education is not a viable option, vocational training aims to give young people the opportunity to develop technical skills which they can take forward to use in their lives to help them earn a living, support themselves and their families, or build a business.

The impact

1,414 children supported to access formal and informal education
1,178 parents and caregivers trained in positive parenting
335 young people and carers supported to advance their livelihoods

Related stories


Education • Nepal • 2021

Poverty pushed 15-year-old Chimini out of school and onto the streets to work to support her family. Her determination to learn led her to the learning centre run by our partner in Nepal. Here, the team encouraged her mother to re-enrol her into school and, when the pandemic hit, supported her with educational supplies so could continue her studies at home.

Read Chimini's story


Education • India • 2021

For children who have never had the opportunity to go to school before, education can seem overwhelming. 11-year-old Amir had never been able to enrol into school before because he was not registered. Thankfully, he was able to attend our partner’s informal education clubs which helped build his self-confidence and skills. Now, he is registered, enrolled in school, and dreams of becoming a doctor.

Read Amir's story


Education • Nepal • 2021

15-year-old Tej dropped out of school to care for his family when his father passed away. When the pandemic hit, there was even more pressure on him, however he was unable to find work. Our partner were able to suppor the family and, with encouragement, Tej has recently been able to re-enrol into school – something he says has made him feel free.

Read Tej's story


I am so happy since I started coming to this project. I pay a lot of attention to my studies and now speak with confidence to everyone. I love encouraging the rest of the children to study at the education club — I feel very happy when I help others and when I see children playing and studying instead of working.

Amir, 11, India

I thought I would never be able to continue my education and that I would have to be on the street my entire life to earn a living. Now I am free from my life on the streets and can live my life again by enrolling back at school. The sorrow we went through after the death of my father brought many changes in our lives and the counselling for me and my mother has helped a lot. Now, hope for doing something positive has built up inside me. I am happy that I am able to study and have a better future.

Tej, 15, Nepal

My life has changed a lot. I feel like my study habit is gradually increasing day by day, as a result my first term results were good. My self-confidence has increased, I participate in different extra activities at school and the learning centre, including dance, art and crafts. I’m very happy, after joining the learning centre I understood the importance of study and I have started thinking about my future.

Reena, 12, Nepal

Legal representation

This year

We provided young people in Kenya legal representation within the judicial system which would otherwise have not been available to them. This enabled many cases to be resolved without imprisonment and meant that young people were able to start vocational training courses, gaining valuable skills for a more positive future.

The impact

53 children in Kenya given legal representation and support
34 young people in Kenya given legal representation and support

Tackling period poverty

The challenge

Millions of girls around the world drop out of school each year when they begin their period. Those who remain in education might miss up to 5 days of school each month during their period.

This year

Period packs were distributed to children in our projects in India – allowing them to not only have access to clean sanitary protection but giving them the independence to manage their period safely and with dignity. These packs also helped to raise awareness about menstrual hygiene in communities, helping to break the stigma attached to the subject of periods.

The impact

200 period packs distributed to children in our projects in India

Related stories


Street Outreach • India • 2021

When 16-year-old Savitri got her period during lockdown, she relied on old clothes and rags and public toilets, over a 30-minute walk away from her home. For families like Savitri’s who struggle to earn enough money to eat properly each day, let alone buy adequate sanitary protection, period poverty and menstrual hygiene are challenges our partners are working hard to address.

Read Savitri's story


Street Outreach • India • 2021

In many countries around the world, periods are still very much a taboo. During Aditi’s periods, she wasn’t allowed to go outside, bathe or touch any food – in line with traditions in her community. Awareness campaigns encouraged Aditi to talk to her mother about these myths and now both are benefiting from improved hygiene practices and proper sanitary protection during their periods.

Read Aditi's story


I want to encourage both women and men to help raise awareness on the challenges we face around menstruation and provide the support wherever needed.

Kanci, 14, India

I feel ecstatic when I see all my friends and other girls receiving sanitary pads from CHETNA. Everyone needs to know that using dirty clothes during menstruation can lead to disease and that it is very important to take special care of cleanliness at such times. I wish for people in my community to not treat girls like untouchables during their periods and to give them respect.

Aditi, 16, India

Related news

Updates • India

Spotlight on period poverty in India

26 May 2021

Other achievements

We helped build

young people’s self-esteem by providing opportunities to them to represent street children in Child Protection System forums, build skills to use online platforms, and collect data for evaluations.

We advocated

for policy change to improve services for street children and strengthening of the Child Protection Systems which help to keep children safe.

We reintegrated

street children with their families and supported children and young people to leave the streets.

We supported

parents and caregivers to form savings clubs to better meet their families’ basic needs.

Key lessons this year

What did we learn and what have we changed?


The importance of regular honest conversations with our partners about the situation on the ground in order to adapt and respond quickly.


For example, we knew very early about the rising COVID-19 figures in Delhi, had conducted scenario planning and were in a good position to launch a timely Emergency Appeal to supporters, whilst the news was breaking in the UK. This meant we could send additional emergency support quickly, at a time when it was most needed.


Inability to travel has meant Toybox Programme Managers have not visited projects for over a year.


To ensure sufficient support and oversight of partner projects, including conducting evaluations and designs of new projects, we have learnt new and creative ways of remote support through online platforms, supporting partners to lead on elements themselves and through contracting additional external (local) support when needed.


Constant adaptation of existing projects due to COVID-19 has resulted in more financial oversight from the International Programmes team.


This has promoted us to investigate a new project management database. We are excited about what this will help us to achieve and plan to roll it out in early next year.

“PKL appreciates Toy box support for the 5 years of partnership. The partnership has been one of the strongest. There has been mutual understanding and respect and our capacity as an organisation has greatly improved especially in areas of safeguarding, program design/implementation and strengthening of financial and management systems."


"We are very encouraged by the open-mindedness of Toybox as they listen to its partners, initiate dialogue and give attention to our views which are guided by our direct connection with the SCC. You have consulted with us on your future strategies and projects that demonstrate your willingness to get our inputs."


"Together, we can accomplish more than we could alone which enhanced our effectiveness, impact, and reach to more and more children."


Achievements From our current strategic plan

Reaching more street children


To have worked with 12,100 (direct) street children by 30 June 2021 - Yes! we have worked directly with 12,423 children and young people directly this year.

Find out more


To support 1,000 children to access birth registration documents by 30 June 2021 - Yes we are delighted to say that even during this challenging year and restrictions on planned activities we registered 1,675 children with their legal identity documents.

Find out more


To include more advocacy work at local and national level in the countries in which we work in order to influence policy and practice to support children and reduce abuse of them - Yes, there have been 12 national advocacy initiatives and 12 local level advocacy initiatives in the past year.

Find out more

Ensuring and measuring all impacts of our work with street children


At least 3 partners have established feedback mechanisms which are known by beneficiaries, are being used and influence project decision making this Financial year - Yes. The great news is that we have achieved this and across all of our partners we are seeing an improvement in child-friendly ways of gathering feedback from project participants.

Find out more


To continue working on safeguarding and ensure that 80% of our partners are on a RAG rating of green by 30 June 2021 - Good news! Given the increase in online platforms used by partners and project participants due to COVID-19, we made our RAG rating criteria tougher this year! Under these new criteria, 63% of partners are on green and none are on red. All are consistently improving their practice and proactivity regarding safeguarding - particularly online.

Find out more


To send 10% more funding to international partners, versus the previous 12 months, by 30 June 2021 - Great news here! We achieved an increase of 9.5%. We were also able to send an additional 7% to our partners for emergency response work, thanks to the generosity of our supporters.

Find out more
Next year

Next year Our aims for 2022

Reaching more street children

  • To have worked with 13,000 (direct) street children and young people
  • To support 1,500 children and young people to access birth registration documents
  • To support 1,500 children and young people with access to formal and informal education
  • To establish one new in country partnership.

Ensuring and measuring all impacts of our work with street children

  • To implement a new Project Management Database for our projects
  • To design and implement a methodology for collating and presenting street children’s stories, allowing the child to tell their story
  • To complete the Governance Review, which was started in the previous financial year
  • To have developed a Toybox Economic Empowerment model
  • To have at least 5 partners with established feedback mechanisms which are known by project participants, are being used, and influence project decision making
  • To ensure continuous improvement in safeguarding and ensure that 80% of our partners are on a RAG rating of green
  • To send 5% more funding to international partners, versus the previous 12 months
Next steps

Next steps Take action and get involved

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