This Christmas many children supported by Barnardo’s Cymru will go without presents and a festive meal, according to a survey of the charity’s frontline workers.
A YouGov survey revealed that more than a quarter (27 per cent) of children among families in Wales who celebrate Christmas will be waking up to more than 10 presents on average this Christmas morning.
In contrast, 43 per cent of Barnardo’s frontline staff responding to a separate survey said some of the people they support who celebrate Christmas were unlikely to receive any presents, or enjoy a traditional meal.
The Barnardo’s staff members surveyed also said they were concerned that some of the children and families they currently support will experience an increase in mental health issues (78 per cent) and loneliness (64 per cent) over the festive period.
The news comes in the wake of reports from hunger charity Trussell Trust which showed food parcel donations are up by nearly a quarter year on year, with one third of these going to children.
Adults in Wales celebrating Christmas who responded to a separate YouGov survey for Barnardo’s said their top concern was that some children and families will miss out on traditions such as having a Christmas meal or receiving presents (23 per cent).
Other concerns included the over-commercialisation of Christmas (26 per cent) and spending too much money (20 per cent).
These results are being published during the charity’s first ‘Kidsmas’ campaign, which aims to raise money to help vulnerable children at Christmas.
The charity is asking people to get involved by creating an online ‘Build a Kidsmas Snowman’ fundraising page. Through the platform, fundraisers can ask people to donate by throwing a ‘snowball donation’. The more snowballs thrown, the bigger their snowman gets and the more money is raised to help change the lives of vulnerable children.
People can also support the campaign by hosting a ‘Kidsmas Party’ at home, school, work and with their local community groups. Anyone can sign up for a free Kidsmas Party pack which includes party games and fun festive fundraising ideas.
Sarah Crawley, Director of Barnardo’s Cymru, said: “Vulnerable children across the UK will struggle this Christmas. Many families supported by Barnardo’s miss out on the fun and celebration we normally associate with this time of year.
“It’s particularly difficult for children with caring responsibilities for sick or disabled parents or siblings, children who are experiencing domestic abuse, dealing with mental health issues, or struggling to live independently after leaving the care system.
“That’s why we’re asking people to come together to raise funds and help Barnardo’s make sure that vulnerable children are safe, supported and cared for – at Christmas and all year round.”
People can set up their own online Kidsmas Snowman fundraiser at http://kidsmas.barnardos.org.uk/joinkidsmas
A happier Christmas for Amy and Isaac
This Christmas will mark a new start for Amy and her son Isaac, six, from Swansea.
After years of heroin addiction she is now clean and feeling more confident she can be the mum she has always wanted to be thanks to support from Barnardo’s Cymru.
Last Christmas Isaac was still in foster care, his mum having requested social services help as she battled to get free of her addiction.
Although she gave up drugs successfully, the last year hasn’t been easy. Her former partner was jailed and although Isaac was returned to her his behaviour at home was challenging.
His school thought that having his dad in prison was causing the issues and Johanne Jones, a Barnardo’s Cymru support worker working with children affected by parental imprisonment, worked with both Isaac and Amy.
“She’s been absolutely brilliant,” said Amy. “She has given me so much more confidence in my parenting, has got me onto parenting courses and I’ve seen so much difference in Isaac. He is much more appreciative of the things I do for him now. I’ve also got strategies for when he misbehaves.”
Amy has separated from her former partner and it will be just the two of them this Christmas. “It is daunting. Even as a child myself I had social services support but Jo has been so wonderful and has shown me the help that is out there.
“I’m not expecting Isaac’s dad to buy him presents and Jo is even organising some gifts for Isaac so he doesn’t miss out and I don’t have to stress about the cost. I’m just so grateful for all the help Barnardo’s have given me,” said Amy.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.