Money was always tight as I grew up, in a home with a disabled father unable to work, and a mother who made up for it with 3 jobs to keep us going. Treats were saved up for and treasured. Each year I was given a piggy bank to save up odd coins I was given for jobs, birthdays or had unexpectedly found on the windowsills in my brother’s bedroom, lost 2p destined for my piggy – I am sure they knew.
What banks do our children learn about today?
Food banks – Hunger – Our teams across Faith in Families projects have never heard so many starved bellies as we do now in 2022! Children not only aware of their own rumbles but those of their Mum’s – sneaking food away in pockets to give in similar pride as the treasured works of art that used to hang on now empty fridges – we are saving up physical health issues in copious amounts when we invented in food banks instead of addressing food poverty.
Clothes banks – Discomfort, our playworkers see daily children arriving at our projects in ill-fitting shoes, worn clothes and inappropriate coats. Little feet grow so quickly yet parents’ budgets do not. So, we invented in Clothes banks for children to be able to use hand me down items that their community had donated – saving up heartful humiliation of not having anything of their own.
Warm banks – Cold, our Brighter Futures practitioners comfort children, whose safe space to dream is a bedroom with no carpet – just bare floorboards, no curtains – just open viewed windows with draughts coming through, bedding – with no quilt – just an empty cover – we are saving up mental health issues if we are soon to go down the road to Warm Banks.
Little feet grow so quickly, yet parents’ budgets do not.
More than 1 in 3 children in Wales currently live in deep real poverty, cold and hungry with hopeless places to dream and empty fridges. Their trauma is experienced in a unique way that I cannot believe in 2022. Whilst I am astounded and shamed, they are beginning to believe that chaos and living in crisis is the normal way of life.
Faith in Families walks alongside children and families that are living though some of the most challenging circumstances in all our communities across Swansea. Charities like ours don’t change lives – however we are lucky and privileged enough to walk alongside people who change their own lives with our support. Caring, and encouraging resilience in thousands of children each year with therapeutic play, family support and community connections.
Each summer I would smash up my piggy bank with pleasure and excitement and plan to use the gifts within.
However, as a country we are putting copious amounts of plentiful, painful, hopeless memories into the piggy banks of our children if we accept how their lives are. We need to smash up the food, clothes and warm banks – and shout out together for radical changes and give back to our children their gift of childhood.