Established in 2009 by a group of young Latvian professionals working in London, aim of Giving for Latvia is to provide aid to the children and parents in Latvia who have suffered from emotional and physical abuse, and to those disadvantaged by age, disability, financial problems or other hardships.
To achieve this goal, Giving for Latvia volunteers coordinate various activities in UK:
– Organisation of Charity Balls and Charity Auctions,
– Collection of donated children’s clothes and toys,
– Distance volunteers translators assist the crisis centres with English language applications for funding, for example EU funding,
– Coordination of exchange trips for educational specialist staff,
– Advice to donors who have particular preferences about their respective donations.
From the very inset of our charity the founders committed not to spend a penny on the administrative costs. All activities are arranged by unpaid volunteers and patrons. It means 100% of any donations get directed to the beneficiaries.
Most of our focus in the past years has been on supporting children from Latvian children’s and women crisis centres. There are about a dozen of such institutions in Latvia, providing temporary shelter to children who have suffered from emotional and physical abuse in their families. We have tried to improve the environment in which children recover from their traumas and to address the most pressing needs of the crisis centres.
Some of the items on the wish lists received from the crisis centres are truly shocking:
– Anatomical interview dolls (so that toddlers, who cannot describe in words the abuse that they have lived through, can play-role it instead)
– LSD cameras (so bruises and black and blue marks can be recorded and criminal cases initiated against the abusers)
– Underwear, shoes, winter clothes
– Baby bottles and steam sterilisers
We have tried to bring the joy of childhood back to the children dwelling in crisis centres and have bought various pieces of equipment:
– sports equipment,
– indoors balls pools with slides,
– portable CD players,
– wooden educational toys,
– children’s books.
We provide support to Latvia from one more angle. The purchases made by the charity for the benefit of crisis centres are sourced from manufacturers and producers in Latvia, to the extent possible.
Since it is the charity that deals directly with the producers/retailers on behalf of several crisis centres, the set up
– allows us to negotiate bulk discounts and therefore provide additional support to the centres at no extra cost
– allows to control the use of donations (we never transfer money to crisis centres).
During 2013 we prioritised registration of Giving for Latvia as an official not for profit in UK. We passed small charity constitution, opened a Community account with HSBC, received reference number (EW07948) from HMRC. Our new status will allow us and our donors to benefit from the U.K. GiftAid scheme – for every £1 that a donor donates, our charity will receive a tax rebate from the HM Revenue & Customs.
During 2014 we have initiated a new volunteering scheme – distance volunteers translators, that assist the crisis centres with their English language applications for EU and other funding, such as for equipment/furniture/etc.
During 2015 we officially registered as a UK charity with Charity Commission (Charity no. 1161932).
Pioneer fundraiser helped to expand our support in Latvia to include disabled children support centres.
During 2016 Ambassador of Latvia to UK Andris Teikmanis was fundraising for GfL during 2016 London Marathon
While our volunteers had been consulted by UK charity sector experts in the past, for the first time GfL received donation in kind from another UK charity – 400kgs / 750 children’s winter coats surplus was received in December 2016 from Hands on London.
We look forward to continuous support of our donors and volunteers (including distance volunteers translators), so together we can make difference to the lives of the least protected members of the Latvian society.