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In collaboration with the John Lewis Foundation: Investing in street children's futures

Updates • India • Nov 2023

Toybox are privileged to have the support of the John Lewis Foundation for our work with street children in India. Since 2016, the Foundation has been supporting projects which are helping children living in vulnerable communities to access education. We are currently partnering to deliver an education project in Jaipur, where, although it is very difficult to estimate the number of street and working children due to the absence of accurate statistics, this figure is thought to be in the hundreds of thousands.

Toybox’s Head of Philanthropic Giving, Nicky Paterson, sits down with Lydia Butler, the John Lewis Foundation’s Partner and Ethics & Sustainability Specialist, to discuss how Toybox and the John Lewis Foundation are working together to help street children realise their potential and have opportunities for the future.

Can you tell us about the purpose and objectives of the John Lewis Foundation?

The John Lewis Foundation exists to create a happier world where all young people can access meaningful employment. We invest in vulnerable children and young adults, providing education and skills for meaningful employment.

Why is investing in children and young people, particularly those living in vulnerable communities, so important to the John Lewis Foundation?

The John Lewis Partnership was established over 100 years ago, bringing to life the vision of our founder Spedan Lewis. Spedan wanted to create a better way of doing business, that was both commercial and democratic, allowing staff (known as Partners), to thrive at work and in society. The John Lewis Partnership has a long tradition of philanthropic activity, supporting communities in which we do business.

Spedan Lewis had a vision that the Partnership would offer good quality, lifelong jobs, particularly for under-represented and vulnerable groups in society. Alongside the John Lewis Partnership, the John Lewis business strives to keep this vision alive today, working to ensure that barriers to employment are minimised. We know that access to education and employability skills at a young age is critical to secure a meaningful job in adulthood, increasing life choices and life outcomes. The John Lewis Foundation was established to support young people in the communities in which we do business, both in the UK and internationally.

There are lots of amazing charities and causes, what led the John Lewis Foundation to support Toybox’s education projects with street and working children in India?

The John Lewis Foundation has a long history of supporting young people in India. We’re proud to have a Delhi based sourcing office, and India is a key sourcing location for many products that we sell in our John Lewis department stores, within products ranging from bedding to hand woven rugs. The John Lewis Foundation looks to support young people who live in the communities touched by our supply chain, helping the most vulnerable in society to improve life chances. Toybox’s education programming brings this mission to life, supporting street children to achieve their potential by removing barriers to education that exist in society. The John Lewis Foundation has partnered with Toybox for over seven years, moving 3,688 children into secure and safe education.

Can you tell us more about the education project in Jaipur the John Lewis Foundation is currently supporting?

The project involved the John Lewis Foundation using their established relationships with Toybox and the British Asian Trust, to broker an introduction, so that they could work together in collaboration to leverage the joint expertise of Toybox and the British Asian Trust to directly improve the life chances for trafficked children in labour, as well as street connected and street living children in Jaipur, by providing improved access to formal and informal education, recreational activities, and comprehensive development opportunities.

What impact has the John Lewis Foundation witnessed from its partnership with Toybox so far?

The John Lewis Foundation is incredibly proud of the partnership that is held with Toybox. The numbers speak for themselves: over 2,650 street children in Jaipur have already received age-appropriate education and support through the British Asian Trust and Toybox collaborative approach, and we’re only at the end of the first year of a three-year project! Toybox have a focus on familial support, encouraging parents of out of school children and key community leaders to embrace education, changing perceptions and emphasising the critical need of communities in ensuring education for all. Whilst facts and figures are fantastic, Toybox’s determination to share real life experiences of the young people they support brings the project to life, and we cannot thank Toybox enough for the real-life impact that they bring to their work and share with Foundation trustees.

How does the John Lewis Foundation measure the success and effectiveness of the projects they support?

Impact measurement is a really tricky topic, and we rely heavily on the incredible recipients of our funds to share the ups and downs of their projects with us, reporting back on a quarterly basis through a variety of written and verbal updates. We aim to foster an open and honest dialogue with all our funded organisations, whereby successes can be celebrated, and changes of plans can be discussed openly without fear of funding withdrawal. The longstanding relationship that we have with Toybox is a great example of this: Toybox have been incredibly collaborative, not only in the bringing together of Toybox and the British Asian Trust, but also in access they have given to their delivery partners, who provide real time updates, challenges, and plans for continuous improvement. For the John Lewis Foundation, a partnership that has open dialogue, clear collaboration between charities and agencies, and passionate and enthusiastic delivery partners is more than likely to foster success and effectiveness.

For more information about the John Lewis Foundation, please visit

You can find out more about Toybox's work in India here.

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