A guest post from one of the newest members of the SHS team – Annabel Rose, Fundraising Assistant.
I don’t know about you, but autumn’s colder weather and darker evenings always feel a little like a countdown to the holiday season. This year in the School-Home Support office though, we’re looking forward to the Big Give Christmas Challenge – the UK’s biggest online match funding campaign.
Every donation (up to £7,000) that we receive through our page between noon on the 28th November and noon on the 5th of December will be matched by generous champions, including our friends at the Childhood Trust. This means that all of your donations are doubled, allowing us to reach twice as many families living in poverty. Today, four million children in the UK (an average of nine in every classroom) live in poverty, so there’s a lot of work to do!1
For many of the families we work with, enjoying the holiday season’s celebrations is the last thing on their minds. Living in extreme poverty often means struggling with unsuitable housing and a lack of food and provisions often taken for granted, including school uniform and school equipment. It’s easy to see how this gets in the way of children’s education when we so frequently work with families who have no money to travel to school, put breakfast on the table, or buy a pair of school shoes.
Thankfully, this is where the School-Home Support Welfare Fund comes in. Our school-based practitioners can apply to the fund for a range of needs including emergency food, clothes, and furniture. The benefits of these items go far beyond the item itself – imagine the pride and confidence that a clean, well-fitting school uniform gives a child, or the sense of hope and empowerment a new washing machine brings a family.
I first realised just how crucial the Welfare Fund was when I heard Sara’s story.
Sara (5) was referred to her school’s SHS Practitioner, Amanda, because her teachers were worried about her erratic attendance and poor punctuality. Speaking to Sara’s mum helped Amanda understand that the family didn’t place much value on education, and that there wasn’t really a routine at home – Sara was often late to bed, which meant she was then tired and late to school the next day.
As a single parent with four children, Mum struggled to meet ends meet. When Amanda visited Sara at home, it was clear that Sara and her siblings didn’t even have proper beds. Amanda applied to the SHS Welfare Fund, which provided new beds and bedding for the children. This was a key step in implementing the new routines mum and Amanda had worked on for Sara – she now happily goes to bed knowing she can sleep comfortably and rest well, and this means it’s much easier for mum to get her up and into school every morning. Her attendance and punctuality have shot up!
It’s easy to take something as basic as a bed for granted, but it can transform the life of a child like Sara by ensuring they access the education they need to escape the cycle of poverty.
A donation of £15 could provide a child with a pair of school shoes, and £25 could provide emergency food for a family. £100 could provide a complete set of uniform for a child, as well as their PE kit. These purchases have enormous impact.
The Big Give Christmas Challenge is an amazing opportunity for your donation or fundraiser to make double the impact – don’t forget that this only applies to donations made through the Big Give website between noon on the 28th November and noon on the 5th December!
(1House of Commons (2016). Poverty in the UK: statistics. Briefing paper number 7096. P.3.)