Did you know that, in some districts in Sussex, as many as two in five children are living in poverty?
That’s according to the latest official figures from the Child Poverty Action Group, who also said the figure is 25 per cent or more in six of the county’s districts and boroughs.
But, this Christmas, residents in Sussex are being asked to make a difference simply by going to the shops near where you live.
The More Radio Toy Appeal has started for 2019, and charities and other organisations helping children across Sussex have been telling our news team about the happiness gifts from previous years have provided.
Drop off points for the appeal can be found here.
Here are just some of the comments:
“It makes a huge difference to people’s lives.”
“Toys and play are a really important part of the care we provide.”
“Having a toy, or arts and crafts to do, gives children an opportunity to fill their days with lots of different things to do, and have fun.”
“To take home a gift is just so magical.”
According to the Child Poverty Action Group, these are the percentages of children living in poverty, in each part of Sussex.
Poverty means that, after adjusting household income for household size and taking into account housing costs, the money coming in is lower than 60% of the median—that is, the middle rate of pay in the district or borough.
Percentage of children living in poverty, 2017/18
|Local Authority||Before housing||After housing|
|Brighton and Hove||17%||26%|
Going below the surface
To take one town in Sussex as an example, many people might see Lewes as a place that, on the surface, is an attractive and quirky market town—though expensive.
But, for local families on lower incomes or dealing with illnesses, the run-up to the Christmas holidays can be a very tough time.
The town’s desirability has seen seen property prices rocket in the last decade, against a background of local heavy industries closing and social housing becoming short in supply.
Deborah Twitchen, who helps to run Landport Foodbank, said increasing numbers of families, under pressure from the ‘gig economy’, zero-hours contracts, and delays caused by changes to the benefit system, are unable to help their children enjoy this time of year as they’d hope.
“Christmas is a major pressure for a lot of parents with younger children, because the media is throwing things at them all the time, often making this part of the year a very stressful one.”
Children receiving care
Many children receiving medical care are forced to be away from their families at Christmas, or their families are under incredible pressure brought about by the devotion they give to their children at home, in hospitals or at hospices.
Gifts to the More Radio Toy Appeal help them, too, as the toys and games add to the activities provided by countless organisations who often receive little help from public funds.
Alison Taylor, from Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice, said:
“Currently, we’re caring for over 300 children and their families, both at the hospice, and in the community and in families’ homes.
“Because of the life-threatening conditions the children face, they and their families face a lot of challenges daily, due to round-the-clock care needs, broken sleep, hospital appointments and specialist care the children need.
“Toys and play are a really important part of the care we provide.
“Children learn through play, but not all of the children we care for can communicate verbally, so play helps them to do this.”
“It also helps provide any siblings who may go through bereavement an opportunity to express themselves through play.”
Making a difference to a child
Leaders of community organisations helped by the More Radio Toy Appeal, have also been talking about the kinds of gifts that children and families most appreciate.
According to Deborah from the Landport Foodbank, toys that don’t need batteries, and that encourage creative play, go down very well:
“We enjoy giving anything that’s interactive, such as games like ‘Connect 4’, so kids can use their heads a little bit—along with things like board games, card games, colouring books, and books for reading.
“I think these things are immensely important because they focus the mind—activities like painting, drawing and writing are great for younger children, too, if they have siblings to sit with, and do these things together.”
How to help
Just buy something new and suitable, at any price, and place it in the More Radio Toy Appeal collecting point near where you live or go shopping.
Countless shops, including major supermarkets, are helping the appeal by letting More Radio have a collecting point near their checkout areas.
The team will then distribute the gifts to charities and care organisations throughout Sussex.
The people you help
Charities and organisations that have distributed listeners’ gifts in previous years have included:
- The Children with Cancer Fund,
- Demelza Children’s Hospice,
- The Children’s Respite Trust,
- Rockinghorse Children’s Charity,
- East Sussex Fostering,
- the You Raise Me Up charity,
- The Chailey Heritage Foundation,
- the Landport Foodbank,
- Dom’s Food Mission,
- Surviving The Streets,
- Love Your Hospital,
- The Salvation Army,
- The Community House,
- Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice,
- The Empty Plate