My family home when I was born is currently ranked in the top area for deprivation in Swansea, but my parents loved it there, with Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles all within a stone’s throw of each other, a real community.
Our home caught fire when I was 3 months old, – we were moved temporarily to another community moving up the lofty ranks of deprivation raising to what would now be third on the list for poverty.
When we show kindness without judgement, we can really help share in the joy of what Christmas time is known for. Our children and families are facing a crisis that many have never seen before, they are going into this winter – with zilch.
If we are motivated to help, this year more than ever then let us do it with compassion, Let us give families respect and dignity and take away the hopelessness that having nothing brings to them.
As a single Mum of three I remember the pressures of Christmas when my sons were young, of trying to keep up with the great expectations of a mythical person that would bring gifts to my boys if they had been nice. Wanting them to know they were valued and special and to have the excitement that their friends were having and that they were not on the naughty list. Knowing the lasting impact that would have on their self-belief.
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.
I remember the first years of Children in Need- saving up 2p pieces in an old whiskey bottle throughout the year ready for the “Big Night”! I excitedly carried the massive bottle into Swansea Centre one night, it was heavy and cumbersome and as I got to the stage the bottle smashed. I spent the rest of the evening picking up 2p pieces out of glass and wondering why I just didn’t put the proceeds in a bag, but I was still proud to do my small bit for Pudsey. I loved the bear a long time before my passion to help make a difference to the lives of children even started and never considered becoming the CEO of an amazing charity -Faith in Families- or actually on the Board of BBC CIN.
The Swansea-based charity, Faith in Families, is today calling on Government to tackle pupil absence and uphold a child’s right to an education, by increasing Government funding of early intervention projects across Wales, and challenging the increased use of reduced timetables by headteachers and school governors. There has been an explosion in demand for the charity’s Brighter Futures project services since the start of the pandemic and it also points to the fact that 30% of its vulnerable children and young people are on reduced timetables, with children as young as three going to school for as little as an hour a day. The charity believes the use of reduced timetables must be slashed if pupil absence levels are to be reduced nationwide, as well as the provision of sufficient funding for early intervention and preventative services.
The buzz you feel and hear when you step into a weathered garden of a family centre at springtime and see the energy and enthusiasm of a team of volunteers bustling around doing all the things that we never get the time to do is uplifting. The grass is greener, the fence is brighter and there is always the sound of laughter during the day. As we wave goodbye to these talented, experienced professionals, gifted in many skill-sets that we have not yet had the chance to develop, we smile as the place looks great once more and we appreciate their time.
This Easter the Bonymaen Community Cwtch hosed a community Easter egg hunt and picnic which was part of a two-week long itinerary of activities. This community day was made possible thanks to the generosity of Carolyn Harris MP and ‘Twiggy’s Removals’, who provided the community Cwtch with a large donation of chocolate eggs for their ‘Everyone Deserves an Easter’ campaign.
Thanks to Swansea Council’s Winter of Wellbeing Initiative, Faith in Families were presented with the opportunity to facilitate a family community trip to Cantref Farm. This community trip was a part of a week-long itinerary of activities, services and engagement opportunities provided by the Clase Community Cwtch over the half-term period.
Our trip was targeted towards the local community to provide a family enrichment opportunity, which they would otherwise be unable to enjoy. Providing local families the chance to have new experiences and valuable bonding opportunities for parents, children and members of the local community which is so valuable within our communities.