Charity creates alternative Christmas wish-list for children in poverty

A charity has created an alternative Christmas wish-list for disadvantaged children after a survey suggested nearly 40% of those living in poverty in London do not expect to receive presents this year.

Many children will be hoping that Father Christmas brings them the latest Harry Potter, Paw Patrol or Peppa Pig toy in their 2020 stocking.

But The Childhood Trust said the more disadvantaged will need a winter coat, a warm, permanent home and meal and someone to talk to on Christmas Day.

The charity said the national average spend on children’s Christmas gifts is £130 while its research suggested the figure for children living in poverty was just £21.79 per child.

The Childhood Trust has released a new report that documents the experiences of children living in poverty at Christmas amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The study includes the results of surveying 39 charities working with 84,000 disadvantaged children aged four to 18 throughout all of the capital’s boroughs.

It found that 38% of children and young people being supported by the partner charities said they will not receive any presents this Christmas.

Some 67% of children admitted to not looking forward to Christmas or not finding the Christmas period enjoyable.

The report said their reasons included experiences of poverty (89%), anxiety (74%), stress (64%), isolation (59%) and having family with health issues (54%).

Other reasons given were homelessness (54%), food insecurity (46%), boredom (46%), getting few presents (43%), fuel poverty (33%), being a young carer (33%), domestic violence (31%), substance abuse (31%) and no winter clothing (28%).

The Childhood Trust report also found that 43% of the charity-supported children will go hungry over Christmas while 33% will experience fuel poverty at some point over the festive holidays.

Nearly half of the children and young people (48%) will feel lonely and isolated over the Christmas period, the report said.

Laurence Guinness, chief executive of The Childhood Trust, said: “We are gravely concerned about the growing number of children living in poverty.

“The impact of poverty on children has been made much worse this year by the economic and psychological hardships created by the pandemic and the measures taken to contain it.

“Whilst Christmas is a joyous time for many, for disadvantaged and vulnerable children the experiences of poverty and destitution are always much worse at this time, so it’s critical we that we can provide support to as many children in need as we possibly can.”

The charity is aiming to raise £3 million between December 1 and 8 through its Christmas Challenge fundraising campaign to help more than 80,000 children living in poverty in London this Christmas.

Donations can be made by visiting: www.childhoodtrustchristmaschallenge.com/donate

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