Hundreds of people in South Ayrshire have been easing the financial burden of Christmas by using the Scotland Loves Local South Ayrshire Gift Card to buy toys.

With just weeks until Christmas, low-income households have been putting the recently distributed £50 Scotland Loves Local South Ayrshire Gift Card to good use, buying Christmas toys and gifts for their children.

In November, South Ayrshire Council sent a £50 Scotland Loves Local South Ayrshire Gift Card to 9000 households who were in receipt of council tax reduction in the summer, as part of the Local Authority Covid Economic Recovery (LACER) funding.

Recipients of the gift card can use it like a debit card with over 170 businesses in the region, including shops, restaurants, leisure venues, salons and service providers. Cards must be activated before use, using the details on the letter sent to residents in November.

Sharon Barbour is from Toytown Ayr, where many of the cards have been spent in recent weeks.

She said: "As soon as the cards were distributed, people were phoning up and asking if they could spend the cards with us. Their first thought was making sure their children had presents for Christmas.

“Being able to use the gift card on Christmas toys for the children means households can put other money towards fuel or food. Thanks to the gift card, children aren’t going without this Christmas.

“But it’s not just parents who are spending the cards either. It might be grandparents buying for grandchildren or giving the gift card to the child so they could choose a little something for themselves. Children have been buying fidget toys and little treats, it’s lovely to see."

Sharon added: “Toytown has been in Ayr for 21 years now and we’re a part of the community. We joined the gift card because encouraging people to shop local is vital as we come out of the pandemic.

"Everybody has been hit hard, and businesses are still fighting to keep going. There are lots of unique and up and coming businesses in Ayr, and if people visit the high street this Christmas rather than going online, the whole area benefits. The gift card is a way for us to bounce back as a region.

“The more people buy and use the South Ayrshire Gift Card, and the more businesses that sign up to accept it, the bigger the scheme gets and the better it becomes for all of us."