16 December 2018
It’s difficult to truly understand the scale of an issue when faced with stats such as 1 in 3 children in Greater Manchester are living in poverty. That’s about 75,000 children; 48,000 in Manchester and Salford alone.
Whilst they are shocking numbers, do they really hit home?
Having heard these stats some years ago, it was something we found difficult to ignore. We started supporting Cash for Kids’ Mission Christmas for several years. Since then our commitment has continued to grow. Throughout 2018, the team here have contributed to so many different initiatives to support people in need, particularly children.
However, it wasn’t until I read a news story in the Manchester Evening News this week that it truly dawned on me just how dire this problem has become.
Reading the story of Steph, who has been moved into temporary accommodation with her toddler son and is pregnant with her second child, was incredibly upsetting. The accommodation is filthy, unsafe and her son has no toys to play with. This is just one example of the problem. It’s heart-breaking.
Everyone should be allowed a fair and equal start. It’s impossible to imagine the pain of being a homeless parent, finding yourself in a position where you are unable to provide for your child.
At a time when families are decorating their Christmas trees and wrapping presents, when children are writing to Santa, and the frantic shopping-day countdown begins, there are so many families without a permanent place to live.
Christmas presents for these families come from charitable donations, and Christmas dinner is often from a local food bank.
This Christmas, along with lots of other businesses and hundreds of volunteers, we’re lending our support to Wood St Mission. Wood St help families like Steph’s with food and gifts for the children at this time of year, and family essentials throughout the entire year.
Wood St is an extraordinary organisation. Families are referred to them by social services, housing associations and other support organisations. The charity then helps them with whatever they need: bedding, clothing, toys, baby equipment, toiletries and children’s clothing.
So far the UKFast team and local community have donated hundreds of toys. We also facilitated the donation of £60,000’s (RRP) worth sportswear from a big brand name for the charity’s Christmas Campaign. But whilst this helps a lot of families, really we’re barely scratching the surface.
A rallying cry
Child homelessness and poverty is not only at Christmas, this is a year-round problem. The article reveals that 1,400 families have been placed in emergency accommodation this year alone, compared to 120 in 2014. That’s not just a huge jump, it clear evidence that there is something fundamentally wrong in society for such a massive increase.
So why are the council and government are struggling to tackle such an important issue?
Andy Burnham is doing a great job raising awareness and his efforts and focus are beginning to make strides with his Bed Every Night campaign, but there’s still so much more that needs to be done.
There’s so much we can all do if we all pull together. Is there anything you can do to help?
Our team at UKFast have got stuck in working on projects in the community this year and I’d wholeheartedly recommend these type of activities for team building, they are hugely engaging.
Together we have to support our young people, whatever city, town or village we are in. There are always people around us who are less fortunate than ourselves. Christmas is the perfect opportunity to be thinking about and helping others.
What can we do to help give all kids a better start in life?
If you have the spare resources to lend a hand to help, there’s no better time than at Christmas.