I have always loved Christmas, the whole build-up is perfectly magical and it takes me back to when I was a child patiently waiting for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve – hoping that one day I may just spot him on his sleigh. The lights, the music and the feeling of hope that fills the cold month of December are things that I always look forward to.
Christmas is a time for children and the adults who are still young at heart. If you have a look through social media, watch television or browse through the countless festive adverts, you may think that the whole world is experiencing a Hallmark film style Christmas. But in reality, for many it represents fear, dread and sleepless nights filled with worry.
Figures show that approximately 29 per cent of children living in Torbay are living in poverty.
There were 4.3 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2019-20. That's 31 per cent of children, or nine in a classroom of 30.
Work does not provide a guaranteed route out of poverty in the UK. 75 per cent of children growing up in poverty live in a household where at least one person works.
Over the years, the proportion of children living in poverty who are in a household with at least one working adult has increased sharply across the UK, up from two thirds (67 per cent) five years ago to three quarters (75 per cent).
Most of the referrals that we receive are for families who are struggling whilst being in work. There’s a battle many face where they must decide to pay for either food, housing or utilities each month. We know so many families are struggling and we want to help.
For the third year running, we have been asking for donations of brand new Christmas presents and Christmas treats for hampers. We distributed over 1,500 brand new presents to children across Torbay last year, and we hope to do the same again.
We work with early years providers, schools, colleges, Torbay Council and Children’s Services to ensure families are supported. We do not know who the families are and the service delivered is confidential.
We have been completely overwhelmed by the response we have received so far from so many people in our community. Although many are still struggling through the ever-changing effects of the pandemic, people are continuing to step up for those who need it most.
One group of football friends who used to play regularly for a local team, came together to support those who need it most at Christmas. Headed by local lad, Stephen Doyle, the guys rallied their friends and ex-team mates and hosted a charity football match. A resounding success, they then contacted RE4orm to donate a mountain of brand new gifts for children! Every single present they purchased with the money raised has been bought with love – they are beautiful. When I asked why they held the charity football match, Stephen replied: "We know lots of people I finding it difficult right now – we want to help.”
And help is what so many more are continuing to do. So far, we have been donated hundreds of presents and they keep on coming!
The teams at The Curious Kitchen, Orsino Lounge, Twenty1 and Meat 59 at have all stepped up with donations plus gifted vouchers for families to enjoy a meal out together.
South Devon College staff and students have helped sort and pack the Christmas stockings for each child we are helping. The stockings will be filled with presents plus festive treats.
There is a beautiful community full of kindness and giving in Torbay. Christmas has highlighted the struggles many are facing. Let’s carry this on throughout 2022, make it a year to remember.
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