Christmas is a magical time. And while many of us can’t wait to join family and friends for festive rituals and joy, many vulnerable children don’t feel part of the fun – because of poverty, mental health issues or their family circumstances. 

Linda Dickson  
Project worker for Barnardo’s 

"I don’t think you ever really forget it. There’s a feeling at this time of year when the lights go up and fill the dark streets with brightness. And even if it’s been decades since Santa last visited, you may still remember what it felt like to be a child waiting for the big day. All that excitement bubbling up inside.  

Christmas time means so much to children. It should be filled with food, cosiness and fun. Yet for many of the children and families I support who are living in poverty, it’s a time of hunger, cold and dread.  

I work for Barnardo’s – we’ve been helping vulnerable children for over 150 years. Our dedicated project workers and Barnardo’s services are at the heart of communities across the UK. And just as it is for Santa, Christmas is our busiest time.

During the school holidays, we’re often the only line of support for children in poverty. At this time, we work hard to make sure they aren’t left feeling cold or hungry – and we need your help. 

I’ve been working with vulnerable children for 20 years now. But I still find it so tough to see children like Cara living in poverty. It was devastating when Cara said that Christmas, ‘was just something to get through’. Those are words no child should say.  

Cara said that Christmas, ‘was just something to get through’. Those are words no child should say.  

She and her mum and siblings had to flee an unsafe situation with nothing. When I met the family, they were living in one room, without beds to sleep on or a cooker. The whole family was hungry, cold and exhausted. I could see how hard all of this was for Cara’s mum. It’s an impossible situation for any parent to find themselves in. She just wanted the best for her children.  

As a project worker, I can make sure vulnerable children are warm and well-fed and was able to give Cara’s Mum a hamper of food, so the children didn’t go hungry over Christmas. Even the children noticed what this meant to her, ‘Mum looked really happy,’ Cara told me. Through my role I also helped them get beds so they could have a proper night’s sleep, and clothes so they could be cosy throughout winter.  

Every child deserves to be part of the magic of Christmas, whether that’s with a present or their favourite food.

Through Barnardo’s I gave Cara and her siblings board games so they could spend quality time together. Cara said that it, ‘was such a laugh. We’ve never done that before as a family.’ Little things can make a huge difference to a child living in poverty.  

This is only possible because of our kind supporters. 

Poverty can be so destructive. It leaves children like Cara feeling excluded from the warmth and joy of the season. They’re embarrassed to feel different from their friends. But with the right support, it doesn’t have to ruin a child’s chances of a brighter Christmas.  

After hosting one of our annual Christmas parties a child once said to me, ‘I’ve never looked forward to Christmas, but I can tell you really care and want to make it special for us. It was the best Christmas party ever.’   

I can’t think of a better gift to give, can you? You can help a child feel cared for, and part of the magic of Christmas."

Support Kidsmas, with Barnardo’s, and you could help a vulnerable child feel warm and welcomed. Your kindness could mean delicious, warming food, a special party where new friendships can be made or expert support that can mean a happier Christmas and a brighter future.