Two UK charities have delivered hundreds of gifts to children after seeing a dramatic rise in poverty amongst young families in London and Glasgow.
The charities – The Louise Project and St Vincent’s Family Project (SVFP) – both of who are members of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul Services group, have spent weeks distributing toys to children of vulnerable families who might not have otherwise received anything for Christmas.
Every year, thousands of young people go without a present or a hot meal over the festive season. This year saw even more parents face watching their child go without due to the economic impact of Coronavirus.
Glasgow-based charity The Louise Project provided toys and winter clothing to 230 children throughout December. Staff and volunteers also delivered hampers to vulnerable families containing essential items such as groceries and toiletries.
Margo Uprichard, CEO of The Louise Project, said food and fuel poverty are the main issues the project has been responding to.
“Even before the Coronavirus pandemic poverty was increasing in Scotland, with an estimated one million people in poverty in 2019. The Coronavirus outbreak has driven those already in poverty into greater hardship and more precarious situations, and it has also overwhelmed many others who won’t have experienced poverty before. Thus, the degree and amount of poverty has intensified and the demands on the project has increased dramatically,” Margo said.
Having seen first-hand an increasing demand for financial support for young people since the first lockdown, Andrew Varley, CEO of SVFP, London, says the emotional effects of poverty can be crushing on children.
“Circumstances have been challenging enough for disadvantaged families with more and more living below the poverty line. The impact on children is tremendous often leading to anxiety, isolation and even rejection amongst peers when they return to school,” Andrew said.
SVFP helped 45 vulnerable families celebrate Christmas by transforming their facility into a Santa’s Grotto. In keeping with social distancing regulations, each family had an appointment where the children had the opportunity to meet Santa – who was wearing a mask shield – and receive a present.
Andrew said it is even more critical to do what they can for families because of the impact Coronavirus has had directly and indirectly on young families.
“Isolation, economic pressure and mental health challenges have put extra pressure on vulnerable families. We are hugely grateful to our supporters who have enabled us to relieve some of this pressure through donations and practical help,” Andrew said.