When most of us might expect to put on weight at Christmas, the children we work with are facing exactly the opposite.
Normally a time of excess, Christmas for them can be a time of hunger and hardship: many returning to school in January having lost weight. Their parents simply cannot afford the extra food that schoo holidays necessarily mean.
Those children would usually receive one warm and nourishing meal at school, but in the holidays, parents struggle to find the extra money to fill a hungry tummy. Dealing with problems of their own; with unmanageable debts, alcohol or substance abuse issues, poor mental or physical health, they simply have no option in the holidays but to try and make what little money they stretch further.
The impoct of being hungry on a child can be devastating.
Quite apart from the pain of being constantly hungry, children find it harder to be warm, and are mor elikely to become ill as their imunse system struggles to cope.
When they return to school in January, often to mock exames, they find it hard to concentrate and their ability to learn is affected. Not eating enough food has a knock-on effect which lasts far beyond the new tear. As one teacher put it:
"When children in my class are hungry, they are understandably distracted. Whether it be trying to balance an equation, learning a new instrumet or explore deeper meaning; all of those aspects, criticalk to a child's education, become next to impossible. Make sure children are fed isn't just a tempoary solution, it's part of making sure they get the best start in life."
Will you help feed hungry child this Christmas?
The good news is that by supporting families this Christmas, children not only recieve the food they need, but parents can find the long-term help they need too.
Take Sabrina for example. Last year, Sabrina cam to our Hub in Grimsby. She has come to us for help after her partner had suffered a stroke and a heart attack. Needing to be at home in order toc are home, Sabrina found it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. She came to Oasis for a food parcel.
But what she found was more than food. She found a community of volunteers, other mothers, teachers and support workers, all of whom helped Sabrina to get back on her feet. Today's she's trhiving. She no longer needs the aypport of the food bank, and instead has become on of our leading volunteers, offering help to other who desperately need support.
Often, those we work with are in deeply vulnerable situations. Whether, like Sabrina, they are strugglgint o cope in the aftermath of trauma, or, like many children, are trying to create a future for themselves by getting a good education, they all need your help to thrive.
Our appeal is simple
With your support, we can make sure that one of their most basic needs - the need for food - is met. By sending in a gift today, you can make a real difference to a child this Christmas.
£8 could buy fresh fruit for homewark clubs
£25 could pay for 5 emergency food parcels for families
£40 could pay for a free dinner at a youth group
£80 could pay for the food for a community lunch
£85 could pay for a community worker to train a fmaily to cook healthy meals
An ongiong gift of £20 a month can pay for a regular mentorin session for a young person.
So please, if you can, donate today.