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 the 28th 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?