A worrying report from The Childhood Trust predicts that 34% of children in the UK will go hungry over the winter months.
The end of the universal credit uplift, furlough and the price increase of fuel, energy and food means many families are worried about winter, with 83% of parents from London concerned about their financial stability over the coming months.
The Childhood Trust launched its Christmas challenge on 30 November in the hope to raise £3.5 million in seven days to support the most disadvantaged children this winter.
CEO Laurence Guinness said: “There’s a vast concentration of wealth in this part of London (South West) and it is easy to forget that just a few streets away people aren’t so fortunate.
“All our children walk the same streets and go to the same bus stop.
“I would urge all Londoners to level the playing field for those who don’t have anything this Christmas.
“Think about those who are not thousands of miles away, but are just one or two miles away who are actually suffering and need some support this Christmas.”
The 50-page report, titled Cold, Hungry and Stressed, examines the impact on winter 2021/2022 for the most disadvantaged children in the UK, and includes survey data collected from 31 London-based charities and a UK-wide survey of 1001 families.
Of the 55,318 children represented by 30 charities in the report, 26% will not receive any presents this Christmas.
Child poverty was already a growing problem before Covid-19 hit.
The Joseph Roundtree Foundation found that 4.1 million children were living in poverty back in 2018 and the pandemic has only escalated the issue.
The new report shows that 4.3 million children across the UK are now living in poverty.
It also found that students in London eligible for free school meals had rose from 18.8% in 2020 to 22.6% in 2021.
The Capital City College Group covers City & Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College, and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, it had also seen an increase in eligibility of free school meals.
The college group saw an increase in the number of students receiving free school meals during 2020/2021, with 24.6% of students receiving free school meals compared to 16.6% the previous year.
The number has decreased this year, with 15.5% of students from the college group eligible for free school meals.
A spokesman for Capital City College Group said: ““Some 67% of our students are in the bottom three bands of social deprivation – with some living in the most deprived wards in the country.
“They are living and trying to learn, while dealing with the effects of poverty every day.
“For example, we’ve found that almost a third of our younger students had to share a computer, laptop or tablet with other members of their family, so in 2020 we invested thousands of pounds in new laptops for hundreds of students and free data for many others.”
Whilst free school meals is an excellent programme to ensure kids are fed during the school term, many children will need help over the Christmas holidays.
Food poverty in the winter months is only expected to get worse, of the 70,981 children who are currently experiencing its effects, it is thought it will get significantly worse for 99% of children.
Families across the UK are turning to desperate measures to keep their children fed with 28% of women admitting they have gone without food so their children can eat.
Mr Guinness added: “The physical affects will pass, the hunger goes away, but the mental effects of living like that week after week are so corrosive.
“We underestimate the impact poverty has on children.”
To see how you can donate money or fundraise to support disadvantaged children across the UK, visit The Childhood Trusts website.
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