At Christmas some of the questions a lot of ask ourselves is :“What do I get my loved one who has everything?” “What size Turkey will I need for the guests I’m catering for?” or “Which game to buy for my child’s console? Don’t get me wrong, all very valid questions which I have asked myself.
For many though, Christmas can be an extremely challenging time. For families living below the poverty line, it’s a period of added pressure to an already vulnerable situation. For the children and young people within these families it’s an occasion filled with dread at what could be a lonely, isolated Christmas. Many rely on the help of the fantastic charity Kids Company and their services.
Kids Company do amazing work throughout the year offering support on many levels. A lot of you would have heard of Kids Company but may not know much about them. This feels like an ideal opportunity to highlight the type of work they do, raise awareness and announce their Christmas plans.
I was lucky enough to recently volunteer with Kids Company. Using the little skills I have as an actor, I took part in the 7 Day Plays. This was a continuation of Drama and Writing Workshops that take place throughout the year. Several young people write a piece of pros, a poem or a scene from a play. It culminated in having their pieces performed by professional actors at the Jermyn Street Theatre. I was blown away by the talent exhibited by these students, whom without these Kids Company workshops would not have had this opportunity to fully realise this. Whether we are looking at the writers of tomorrow or not. It was amazing to see an invaluable means of expression for the students. I felt privileged to be a tiny part of that process.
Kids Company was founded by Camila Batmanghelidjh in 1996. The children’s charity provides practical, emotional and educational support to vulnerable inner-city children and young people. Its services reach 36,000 children across London, Bristol and Liverpool, including the most deprived and at risk whose parents are unable to care for them due to their own practical or emotional challenges. The charity provides a safe, caring, family environment where support is tailored to the needs of each individual. Their services and support empower children who have experienced enormous challenges to lead positive and fulfilling lives. Kids Company has launched an appeal to the public to give the gift of Christmas to thousands of extremely vulnerable children and young people. With rising levels of poverty too many children face waking up on Christmas Day without a hot meal or warm clothes and without a single present to open.
1 in 4 children are living below the poverty line in the UK today. Kids Company is encountering increasing levels of severe deprivation in the children who self-refer to their services with 57% of children needing shoes and over 1000 children are waiting for a winter coat.
Kids Company hopes that with the help of the public, they can raise enough funds to provide the children, young people and distressed carers that access Kids Company’s services with warm clothing, a hot meal and support during what can be extremely challenging months for them and their families.
For many children like Jordan, 13 the Christmas period is often a time of devastating loneliness, shame and despair.
“Coming to the Kids Company Christmas party makes me so happy because I am a lot less stressed now. I want to get out of bed and enjoy the day. Before, I was only getting up to hustle food. It was just another day. Now I get really excited, just like all the other kids.”
Founder and CEO Camila Batmanghelidjh says:
“When you are left alone on Christmas Day, the most painful shame takes over. No family or friend to turn to on a day when everyone is gathered together. It is for the children, young people and traumatised carers who are terrified of Christmas that we open on Christmas Day at Kids Company. It’s a joyful, mad, ramshackle day enriched by the generosity of complete strangers. On the 25th of December we bring together those who have needs and those who can meet them in one big celebration”
FACTS AND FIGURES
- Kids Company supports over 4,000 children, young people and vulnerable adults through its Christmas Day party and reaches out to a further 12,000 in the community with desperately needed food and gift parcels.
- On Christmas Day it provides over 4,000 Christmas lunches, 2,100 family sets with items such as blankets as well as food packs to take away.
- In the run up to the Christmas period 2,000 volunteers help to wrap presents for the children as the charity’s head office is transformed into a real life Santa’s grotto. Over 320 volunteers give up their Christmas Day and Boxing Day to help make a special day for the Children.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
- Online: https://www.justgiving.com/Kids-Company-Christmas-2014/
- Crowdfunder: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/give-the-gift-of-christmas/?
- Cheque: You can send a cheque to Kids Company, 1, Kenbury Street, London SE5 9BS. Please clearly mark the following code on the back of your cheque – SPCHR006
- Text: Text ‘KIDS HELP’ to 70700 to make instant £5 donation. To donate over £5 please send multiple texts or alternatively donate your chosen amount via our Justgiving page. The donation amount will be added to your mobile phone bill. There are no additional costs, 100% of the donations come to Kids Company and it will not affect any text allowance on your phone plan.