Christmas goodwill is my favourite part of the festive season outside my own family celebrations. I love how everyone gives their time and attention in a more generous-spirited way. I see people reaching out to help others and more forgiveness too. I love how charities benefit from unexpected donations at this time of year. I asked bloggers to share times when such goodwill made a big difference to their lives.
“My friends doing the pick up and the drop of the my kids when I am in need. They are such stars. I will never forget” www.ethannevelyn.com
“I worked in America doing door to door sales one summer when I was at Uni. I hated it. One day it was wet and I was so miserable. Some people found me, took me to a local church for a coffee, to warm up and gave me some money too” Counting to Ten
Helping poor families at Christmas really gives a sense of that idea of goodwill to all during the festive season. We can try to help and get a feel good factor from doing so or like Scrooge before he became enlightened we can turn out backs on those who need just a little help. Does helping poor families at Christmas matter to you as you make your festive preparations?
Stress at Christmas is common and particularly where a family has struggles whether financial or emotional.
Helping poor families at Christmas
I wanted to let you know about the Big Give Christmas Challenge– the UK’s biggest online match funding campaign.Every donation (up to £7,000) that my partner charity School-Home Support receive between noon on the28th November and noon on the 5th of December will be matched by generous champions, including our friends at the Childhood Trust. This means that all of your donations are doubled, allowing the charity to reach twice as many families living in poverty. Today, four million children in the UK (an average of nine in every classroom) live in poverty, so there’s a lot of work to do!
Poverty in the UK
Living in poverty often means things your family take for granted like housing, food are unsuitable for children growing up. Many families cannot manage to afford school uniform and equipment to help with children’s education. Milestones like growth that should be celebrated add yet more burdens as shoes are needed and extra-curricular activities that help a child to develop cannot be accessed.
Thankfully, this is where the School-Home Support Welfare Fund comes in.
James’ mum, Moji, was a motivated person who studied at University, before suffering leg and back injuries and subsequent deep depression. Unable to walk, let alone work, Moji and her children – James and his sister Favour – were living in poverty, housed in temporary accommodation (in a top floor flat with no lift, so she was unable to leave home for months at a time) with no proper furniture or clothing.
SHS Practitioner, Sevgi, realised that the family were in need of support. She used the SHS Welfare Fund to buy the children school uniforms and bags, proper beds to sleep in, transport to get to school, and items to make the home more accessible for Moji’s disability. Sevgi also helped the family to get rehoused in a more suitable accommodation and to access the benefits they were entitled to.
Sevgi and Moji’s hard work has paid off. James recently won a scholarship to attend football college and is on track to becoming a professional footballer. Sevgi has empowered Moji, so that going forwards she feels strong enough to find resolutions for the family herself. She recently applied for a scholarship for Favour to attend a private secondary school with board, as she’s doing very well at primary school.
Jackie lives with her four adult children and three grandchildren, Cameron, 12, Curtis, 11, and Kodi, 9. Cameron, Curtis and Kodi were removed from their parents’ care after witnessing years of domestic violence, and the impact of this violence, as well as other issues including their grandmother’s alcoholism, meant that the boys had serious problems at school. Their attendance was low, their behaviour was poor and both police and social services were regularly involved with the family.
Our ‘Troubled Families’ senior practitioner Sam has helped to turn things around. Previously, the boys had tatty and incomplete school uniforms which singled them out for bullying. The SHS Welfare Fund was used to buy new uniforms which has boosted their self-esteem, and Sam visited their home each morning for a week to get them into a morning school routine. Within 12 weeks the boys’ attendance at school had dramatically improved. School attendance for all three boys is now 95%.
The boys’ behaviour at school was also a serious cause for concern with Cameron, the eldest, was being repeatedly excluded from his secondary school for violent behaviour. Sam spoke to the school and arranged for the boys to have mentors assigned, and also enrolled them on a course supporting children who have witnessed domestic violence. The programme has benefitted them enormously and their behaviour is now much improved.
Finally, Sam worked to build Jackie’s resilience so she could effectively parent the boys. She has given up drinking, has taken on some psychological support and now works as a midday assistant at a local primary school.
The police and social services haven’t been involved with the family since they met Sam.
Does helping poor families at Christmas matter to you? How do you go about supporting them?
Have you heard about UNICEF’s sanitation projects?
Let me ask you a personal question. Have you used a loo today? Did you feel blessed or did you take it for granted. Take a look at this quiz and it is great because the answers are included. Then pop along to the supermarket and buy a special bottle of Domestos and help UNICEF’s sanitation projects.
How many people across the world do you think are estimated to live without access to a proper toilet?
Answer: c. 2.5 billion#
Therese Dooley, UNICEF Senior Sanitation and Hygiene Programme Advisor says, “It’s unthinkable that 37% of the world’s population don’t have access to a proper toilet.# And when I say a proper toilet, I’m not necessarily saying that everyone has to have a nice bathroom with a flushing toilet. I just mean some place that is safe to dispose of your faeces, some place that will keep the faeces from getting into the living environment, some place that will stop children getting sick.” Diarrhoea is the second leading cause of death in children under five globally, accounting for 15% of mortalities. 88% of these are due to poor sanitation with 36% directly linked to not having a toilet.”#
Which of the following do you think contains more germs?
They both contain the same
Answer: b. Children’s poo.
Therese Dooley, UNICEF Senior Sanitation and Hygiene Programme Advisor says, “Many people do not consider a child’s faeces to be as dangerous as that of an adult. However this is untrue. Children’s faeces actually contain many more germs. Even in our own homes we often change a nappy without the strict hygiene concerns we would have with adult faeces. In the developing world children are often allowed to defecate in the surrounding household environment and it’s not considered dangerous because the family consider a child’s faeces to be safer.”
What do you think is the main cause of so many people lacking access to a toilet?
People are not aware of the link between poor sanitation and poor health so do not understand how a toilet can prevent potentially life threatening diseases
Lack of money and resources to build toilets
Answer: C. Both.
Therese Dooley, UNICEF Senior Sanitation and Hygiene Programme Advisor says, “A mum in the developed world doesn’t even have to think about protecting her child from faeces because her home has access to water based systems in that when anyone flushes the toilet – waste is just gone. But in the developing world, the environment in which you’re living has a lot of faeces – animal and human. However, it’s often the case that mothers are unaware of the link between faeces and their child’s health. They don’t realise that germs from faeces can reach their child and cause her child to have diarrhoea. If they did, they would jump at the chance of removing that danger and would do something about it. Through CATS we’re not telling communities what they should do to improve sanitation; we’re stimulating the realisation of the link between hygiene in the home and elimination of open defecation to improved health.” Money and resources can also be a major barrier to improved sanitation.
Where in the toilet are most germs found?
In the toilet water
Under the toilet rim
Answer: Under the toilet rim
Carolyn Jones, Unilever Global Expertise & Authority Manager, says, “The toilet is considered to be one of the biggest germ threats in the bathroom, and the highest number of bacteria are found in the toilet under the rim. However, any surface that people come into contact with will affect them. Germs can fly up to two metres from the toilet with every flush and those germs can re-contaminate bathroom surfaces like the seat and flush handle. It is a good hygiene practice to keep the toilet, and all contact sites clean on a regular basis.
Domestos is one of the world’s best-selling, most effective germ killers. Domestos is a thick bleach product has the most effective chemical compound able to kill all types of germs, including all known bacteria, viruses and fungi.”
What is the likelihood of your child getting sick from touching unhygienic surfaces in the bathroom?
Carolyn Jones, Unilever Global Expertise & Authority Manager, says, “We can’t put a figure on the chances of your child getting sick, but we can advise you on how to prevent it happening. One study has shown that children touch surfaces and then touch their mouths 81 times per hour – one of the most common ways for germs to enter the body. To prevent your kids getting sick it is important to keep surfaces clean and regularly use germ-kill toilet bleach products, such as Domestos.”
How long can germs survive in the toilet?
Carolyn Jones, Unilever Global Expertise & Authority Manager, says, “In theory, germs could survive forever if they didn’t come into contact with a germ killing agent such as Domestos. In one study, scientists found Salmonella germs in the toilet one month after the family had been sick.# This isn’t hard to believe when you know that one germ can multiply to two million germs in just seven hours. Using Domestos on a regular basis helps destroy these germs.”
Carolyn Jones, Unilever Global Expertise & Authority Manager, says, “Bacteria make up one third of the weight of an average human stool – that’s about a thousand billion bacteria. Of course, not all these bacteria pose a serious risk to your family’s health, but of the several hundred species of bacteria found in human excreta can cause diseases, including Salmonella spp, Enterococcus faecalis and Staphyylococcus aureus. Even if 99.9% of the germs in the toilet are washed away when you flush, that can still leave several billion in the toilet with the potential to make your family sick. Regular use of Domestos bleach destroys these germs, helping protect your family from the diseases they cause.#”
You might also want to sign up to Give As You Live here http://www.give.as/savingbabieslives so that every time you shop online, the retailers can donate a percentage of what you spend to a good cause like UNICEF.
I am promoting charities and good causes for free on my blog during June 2012.
Here is an introduction to the work of the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice.
The Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice in Huddersfield supports children with life limiting conditions and their families. The charity began more than 12 years ago as a result of the challenges of a local mum whose son, Russell, became very ill and needed hospice care. She was concerned at the lack of local support, and set about changing this.
12 years on The Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice is now a reality. In October 2010 the charity began supporting children and families through its hospice at home service. To date we have received more than 60 referrals, and we are already helping over 40 children and their families, with more coming to us every week. In October 2011 the hospice building was completed.
The care provided by a children’s hospice is unique. All of the children we help will have conditions which will, sadly, significantly shorten their lives. However we may support children and their families for many years, possibly until the child is a teenager or even a young adult.
We know that when a child has a life limiting condition they still have the same needs as all children – the need to play, to communicate, to experience new things, to learn and to reach their full potential, whatever that may be for them. Our focus is to do everything we can to make children happier and more fulfilled while they are with us, however long or short that may be. Despite the common perception, a children’s hospice is much more about life than it is about death – and any visitors will find fun, noise and laughter in a building which is designed to feel like a large, welcoming home.
As well as helping the child we also provide support for the whole family. Caring for a child with a life limiting condition places immense strain on parents, siblings, grandparents and other family members. We give parents a break, and help them become parents instead of full time carers. We give support and attention to siblings who are dealing with all the issues of having a brother or sister who get all the attention but who won’t always be with them. We support families through bereavement counselling, relationship guidance, and general emotional support while they are caring for their child and often for years afterwards.
There is no charge for the care and support we bring to children and families. As less than 4% of our funding comes from government sources we must work hard to raise funds to enable us to care for those who need us. As we open the hospice and continue our hospice at home service we must increase our income from £1million per annum last year, to £2.5 million per annum over the next 18 months.
We love to hear from people who are able to fundraise for us in any way. Please get in contact if you want support, ideas or information on 01422 411046
This month, I am promoting charities and good causes for free on my blog.
Today, I feature a guest post from St Hilda’s East Community Centre – Working for the Tower Hamlets community and beyond since 1889.
St. Hilda’s East is a multi-purpose community centre in the Bethnal Green/Shoreditch area of Tower Hamlets. We provide valuable support to groups of all ages and backgrounds within the local community. We aim to address social issues and disadvantage found in the area, where 52% of children live in poverty (End Child Poverty campaign, 2012).
Our activities range from an Under 5s Project, youth services, Legal Advice, volunteering, to a Women’s Project and mental health support. Some projects, such as the Boundary Women’s Project and our much-used Advice Service, are not fully funded and we rely upon donations to maintain them.
The Boundary Women’s Project aims to encourage local women to realise their own potential, especially women experiencing social exclusion or minority ethnic women facing language barriers. The varied programme of regular activities includes from English language classes, Keep Fit, IT sessions and an exciting textile training initiative is also taking place.
“I really enjoyed the health programme, never having done yoga before”
“Cooking in front of people was scary, but when I started giving out samples of my food, I was amazed that they wanted more and liked the taste so much – it did wonders for my confidence!”
The Advice Service provides free, confidential and impartial advice to local residents – particularly those who struggle in accessing rights and entitlements through lack of knowledge and language barriers. The Advice Service is staffed by our qualified advisor, and we also offer a legal advice service delievered on a pro-bono basis by law firm staff who volunteer weekly.
“I‘m very happy and can’t thank the advisers enough.”
( — Mr A after a successful appeal against a Criminal Injuries Compensation decision)