2020 has been, by any stretch of the imagination, a rough year for everyone, but particularly for those families who were already struggling. Many during this holiday season will be forced into dreadful situations due to circumstances completely out of their control, often with their children suffering the consequences.
That’s why this year Global Voices is teaming up with Action for Children, a UK based charity that helps vulnerable children by giving families the support and means to provide for themselves. Through helping with vital bills, providing healthcare and mental wellness, or escaping domestic abuse, Action for Children volunteers are on the front line protecting the future of the next generation.
For this Holiday Season, Action for Children are asking for Secret Santas to make a gift donation to help support the vital work they do. We sat down with Action for Children’s Craig Wilson to discuss how becoming a Secret Santa will help make Christmas that little bit more special for vulnerable children this year.
Hi Craig, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions today. We’re extremely excited about helping spread awareness about your Secret Santa initiative, could you explain a little more on what it is and who it is aiming to help?
Craig: Secret Santa is Action for Children’s Christmas fundraiser, hoping to bring some festive cheer to the most vulnerable families in Scotland.
Last year, people like you helped us reach 368,648 children, young people, and families in the UK. Thousands of wonderful supporters made a life-changing difference in so many ways. Their generosity meant our frontline key workers could help struggling families to pay for the essentials, like food, warm clothes, and a safe place to sleep. They helped us to protect children living in the shadow of domestic abuse and supported those with caring responsibilities. They also supported young people with their mental health and provided short breaks for disabled children.
That sounds wonderful, can you go into more detail what effect the donation will make to the lives of those young people in need?
Craig: Christmas should be a time of happiness but for many there will be fears over keeping a roof over the family’s head and ensuring that there is enough food to go round. Life has become a desperate struggle for so many UK children and families. We’ve seen how their lives have been turned upside down. But we’ve also seen the life-changing difference you can make. By becoming a Secret Santa, you could make sure more children and young people have a hot meal, a present or a safe place to sleep.
How does raising awareness help support causes like Action for Children?
Craig: We are grateful to supporters for sharing and highlighting our efforts and that goes for Secret Santa, too. We hope that the more people who see our Secret Santa campaign, the more that become Secret Santas.
The event is focused on bringing children a wonderful Christmas, but Action for Children does much more than just Christmas work, how will these donations positively affect vulnerable children beyond the New Year?
Craig: Our Secret Santa campaign is part of our work all year round to support the most vulnerable and disadvantaged families in Scotland. Our frontline staff have continued to work with families during lockdown, being there to listen to worries and supporting families. Furthermore, through our Emergency Appeal, we have been able to provide vital resources to families the length and breadth of the country – filling food cupboards, paying heating bills and provide devices to allow children to continue their education and to engage with friends.
What do you feel are the most important factors in creating a positive and nurturing environment for children this Christmas?
Craig: For many of the families we work with, they have often been forced with the heart-breaking decision to choose between putting food in the table or heating the home. By becoming a secret Santa, you will ease the pressure on families and stop them having to make that choice.
Children in poverty is something of an unseen problem in the UK, how can people help raise awareness for it within their own communities?
Craig: We already know in many communities’ people are seeing more foodbanks and other support mechanisms there to offer help and support to people experiencing poverty, including the campaign for free school meals. People should be asking why we need these type of support networks especially in a country as rich as ours, putting more money in the pockets of families is the simplest way to tackle poverty.
For Action for Children, ensuring that families and young people have appropriate levels of social security, having decent well-paid jobs and access to the best deals for electricity and clothes etc can reduce child poverty. So, having people asking our elected representatives why do we have high levels of child poverty and what actions will they introduce to tackle the issue is a real tangible action communities can do.
And finally, how can people get involved with the Secret Santa event this year?
Craig: Be a Secret Santa for a vulnerable child this Christmas text WARM to 70175 to give £10 or visit iamsanta.org.uk/Scotland