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Manchester’s Birthday Stars Project seeking cake donations to help children affected by homelessness celebrate their birthdays in lockdown

  • The charitable association has been unable to deliver their usual free birthday party service since the outbreak of coronavirus
  • The service aims to support children whose families are affected by homelessness or crisis
  • Project founder Jess Taylor hopes to receive birthday cake donations for each child living in eligible temporary accommodation centres

A year on since the start of the first coronavirus lockdown in the UK, many organisations have had to adapt in order to operate during the pandemic.

The Birthday Stars Project, a local charitable association which aims to celebrate birthdays with homeless children, is no exception.

The non-profit organisation usually involves a team of volunteers delivering free birthday parties for children and families experiencing hardship, though social distancing rules have meant they have been unable to carry out this service for the past year. 

The project is in partnership with Manchester City Council and, before the coronavirus outbreak, had provided birthday parties for over 30 children living in temporary accommodation centres in south Manchester.

The service has since had to be scaled down from delivering parties to organising donations of birthday cakes and party bag items for children in order to comply with government guidelines.

A birthday party held before the outbreak of Covid-19 (Image: Birthday Stars Project)

Jess Taylor, the founder of Birthday Stars Project, first established the organisation in 2017 after having previously been homeless herself. 

She said: "We're all really missing doing the parties, it was a nice way for children to get to know each other - we had one parent say that it was the first time that they'd seen their child smile in a long time.

"It's a bit up in the air at the moment but it's still better than nothing for the children to at least get a birthday cake - that's all we can really do right now."

There are currently 35 children living in the two temporary accommodation centres (which cannot be named publicly for safeguarding reasons), with Ms Taylor hoping to receive donations of birthday cakes and party bag items for the children to celebrate each birthday remotely.

"When you're homeless your world just comes crashing down. The children need some sense of normality and something to look forward to," she said.

"It's a big passion of mine and I just want to help as many children as possible to try and celebrate their special day even though they're spending it in difficult circumstances.

"It's my way of giving back."

Founder Jess Taylor uploaded a video discussing the project's need for donations (Image: Birthday Stars Project)

The organisation was initially awarded £3,000 in July 2017 after a successful application for funding from One Manchester's Community Soup Fund, though the project now largely survives on donations. 

It has received regular donations from businesses including Sweet Genius bakery in Swinton and Giddy Goat Toys in Didsbury, who have donated birthday cakes and toys respectively. 

Toys, edible treats, and shoebox hampers were also donated in December by Amaryliss Day Nursery in Old Trafford, with the gifts being given to children and their families to celebrate Christmas. 

A recent cake donation for a one-year-old boy's birthday (Image: Birthday Stars Project)

Jess said: "I'd like to say a big thank you for all the generous donations we've received and to all the volunteers who have helped in previous years. It really wouldn't have been possible without them!"

The organisation is currently recruiting volunteers to support the project by creating social media content to help organise birthday cake donations each month.

There are four children with birthdays coming up in April. If you would like to donate a birthday cake or any party bag items, or help organise donations on social media, please contact Jess Taylor via the Birthday Stars Project's Facebook page. 

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