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CHARITY APPEAL 

We haven’t seen poverty like this since the 1980s – some families have just one light bulb, says Barnardos chief

9th September 2022

BARNARDOS is calling on people to dig deep to support vulnerable children facing poverty as a result of the cost of living crisis.

This coming winter, thousands of Irish families will be forced to choose between heating and eating as energy bills continue to rocket.

Barnardos' Giving Day takes place on Friday
Barnardos’ Giving Day takes place on FridayCredit: Patrick Bolger
Barnardos are appealing to the public to give more this Giving Day to support families and children as the cost of living soars
Barnardos are appealing to the public to give more this Giving Day to support families and children as the cost of living soarsCredit: Getty Images – Getty

The stress and worry caused by soaring bills is having an enormous toll on families’ mental health.

The children’s charity has vowed to stand by hard-up families who rely on their vital services to survive.

And the big-hearted organisation – celebrating its 60th anniversary this year – needs your help.

Today is Barnados annual Giving Day and it is asking the public to give generously to support its work with more than 16,500 children and families across Ireland.

It needs to raise at least €10million this year to ensure the continuation of services to those who need it most.

Here, Mary Gamble, director of fundraising, explains how their services will help struggling families as they face a winter of severe financial pressure.

SUPPORT AND DONATE

Today we are looking to the public to support and donate to help Barnardos give the gift of childhood to the most vulnerable children living in Ireland.

We work with just over 16,5000 families each year, and having come out of the pandemic, we are now seeing a different need of service on the front line that we weren’t expecting but one that is really impacting and really filtering through every single service, and that is as result of the cost of living crisis.

Every single member of staff in Barnardos is worried about what’s coming.

We are now seeing poverty at a level that we have not seen since the 1980’s, and at the moment there is almost a perfect storm of the increase that we had during the pandemic.

During Covid-19 we were seeing a huge increase in violence within homes and in families living in very chaotic situations.

Mental health has massively increased as a challenge for parents as well as an increased amount of anxiety in children, but what is underpinning all of that now is poverty.

ONE LIGHT BULB

We have heard of examples of families that had one light bulb and they are taking that light bulb from room to room.

The light bulb would be taken from the sitting room into the kitchen to do the homework. Because winter is coming, we know that the demand is going to increase.

When kids come into our centres on Mondays, instead of having one bowl of cereal and toast, it will be three or four bowls of cereal because they won’t have had any nutritious food over the weekend.

Parents who previously wouldn’t have needed our help are now asking for food parcels, and are having to ask: “Can I have bread, milk, ham, cheese for the school lunches.”

For someone to admit that they cannot feed their own children is so difficult.

‘WORRIED ABOUT NEXT MEAL’

And for the kids, there is hunger not only on their faces, but it is in their eyes. They’re worried about where the next meal is coming from, and to see that in the eyes of a five-year-old, is soul destroying.

At Barnardos it’s our job to make sure parents don’t feel stigmatised or feel any less of a parent because they cannot provide those things.

Barnardos will be there for them, but for us to do that, we need public support, because we cannot do that on our own. It’s about making sure Barnardos is  with families in poverty every single step of the way.

We will continue to provide emotional and therapeutic supports as always, but it is  the practical supports we need help with financially, for basic essentials including nappies, formula, food parcels, coal, turf and winter coats. We need financial support from the public so  we can give those practical supports to families who need it most.

During the pandemic we never stopped going out to see families in need and we will not stop in this crisis either. We will always be there because not feeding the children isn’t an option for us.

But we need your help, so please donate what you can at barnardos.ie/donate to help ensure Barnardos can be there for children when they need us most. Because childhood lasts a lifetime.

Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Communications, Mary Gamble
Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Communications, Mary Gamble

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