'They will have nothing to open for themselves on Christmas day': Gift appeal for single parent families launched

The charity One Parent Families Scotland is appealing for donations to help struggling single parents overcome the stress and financial strain of the festival season

  • Glasgow and Lanarkshire services of One Parent Families Scotland launch ’12 Weans for Christmas’ campaign, seeking donations of toys, clothes and food
  • Dundee branch of OPFS also calls for donations of gifts for single parents who often experience isolation and financial pressures
  • 190,000 single parents care for over 291,000 dependent children across Scotland, while 49 per cent of Scottish children in single parent families now live below the poverty line

AN APPEAL to the people of Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Dundee has been launched seeking donated gifts for one parent families which might otherwise go without this Christmas.

The charity One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS), which supports single parents throughout the country, has emphasized how difficult the festive period can be on families with only one parent, with financial strain often resulting from the pressure to buy gifts and create a special Christmas experience for their children.

In light of the precarity and anxiety single parents often experience at this time of year, the Glasgow and Lanarkshire services of OPFS have launched the ’12 Weans for Christmas’ campaign, calling for donations of new toys, children’s clothes and non-perishable foods.

Meanwhile, the Dundee-based service is seeking gifts for the often-isolated parents on whose behalf it works, such as slippers, socks, gloves, hats and scarves. OPFS will also provide hot chocolate cones, reindeer food bags, chocolates and biscuits for the parents to share with their children.

“How do you tell a kid you can’t afford to buy them anything when they think it comes from Santa?” Sarah, single mother of two

Commenting on the new initiative, One Parent Families Scotland director Satwat Rehman said: “The everyday pressures of making ends meet can often come to a head at Christmas with the additional costs of presents and food tipping many families into debt or deeper into debt. 

“Our Christmas appeal aims takes some of that pressure off families so they can relax and enjoy their time together.”

Manager of OPFS Glasgow and Lanarkshire Linda Pople also commented: “Child Poverty in Scotland is rising and almost one in four children are officially recognised as living in poverty.  As Christmas approaches single parent families are put under tremendous pressure.

“Many parents are going without food on a regular basis and are struggling to have money to put in their gas and electric pre-paid meters just to get gifts for their kids.

“Parents are trying to provide Christmas for their kids and on many occasions are going into debt to pay for gifts that they can't afford because they don't want to let their kids down.

“We rely on people like you to support us with donations of new toys, new clothing and non-perishable foods, or cash donations to help pay for heating costs during this time.”

“Parenting alone is tough and demanding and the impact of this on parents’ wellbeing can result in them feeling unappreciated and alone. Many of these parents are isolated, with little or no family support or social circles.” Dundee OPFS manager Kim McRae

Manager of OPFS Dundee Kim McRae added: “Christmas should be a time of year that makes you feel good, when you can spend time with your family and enjoy the presents you receive.

“The reality for many single parents is that this time of year brings extra worry and stress about how they will be able to provide everything they would like to and cope with family relationships that are not always friendly and enjoyable.

“Parenting alone is tough and demanding and the impact of this on parents’ wellbeing can result in them feeling unappreciated and alone. Many of these parents are isolated, with little or no family support or social circles. Their reality is that they will have nothing to open for themselves on Christmas day.

“In Dundee, there are good toy appeals that we can apply to if any families need this kind of support, hence why we didn’t feel the need to ask for toys. We also find that the single parents we support will go without in the build up to Christmas as a means of providing gifts for their children.

“We want to be able to give something to the parents to make them feel a bit better about themselves – to feel that someone cares about them too.”

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A fundraising evening has already been held by the Dundee service in support of its appeal, raising £600, while a donation of toiletries from Lush has also been received.

One in four families in Scotland are single parent families. Roughly 190,000 single parents care for over 291,000 dependent children across the country, with 92 per cent of those parents being mothers, and less than 60 per cent of them in employment.

Official statistics show that 49 per cent of children in single parent families now live below the poverty line. Pressures on single parent families are expected to only increase, following warnings from the Equality and Human Rights Commission that by 2021, single parents and their children will lose 20 per cent of their current income – calculated at approximately £5,250 a year - due to welfare reform, such as the introduction of Universal Credit.

Sarah, a single parent with two children, commented: "Christmas is meant to be a happy time but for me it just causes me more stress. I don’t have enough money to get by week to week and now I have to find money to get toys for the kids.

“How do you tell a kid you can’t afford to buy them anything when they think it comes from Santa? I just want us to go to sleep on Christmas eve and wake up on boxing day when it’s all over.”

Laura, a single parent with three children, said: "One Parent Families are amazing. I contacted them for some help and within a day they had dropped off toys, food and clothes for the kids and even a gift for me.

“I don’t know what I would have done without them. And who said Santa wasn’t real?”

Donate to the Glasgow Gift Appeal until 13th December: Please call OPFS Glasgow on 0141 847 0444 for further information or to arrange drop-offs to the OPFS office at Waterloo Chambers, 19 Waterloo St, Glasgow G2 6AY.

Donate to the Lanarkshire Gift Appeal until 13th December: Please call OPFS Lanarkshire on 01698 239961 for further information or to arrange drop-offs to the OPFS office at 42 Civic Square, Motherwell, ML1 1TP.

Donate to the Dundee Gift Appeal until 4th December: Please call OPFS Dundee on 01382 501972 for further information or to arrange drop-offs to the OPFS office at Families House, 20 Grampian Gardens, Dundee, DD4 9QZ

Donate to One Parent Families Scotland at any time via https://www.opfs.org.uk/community/donate/ 

Picture courtesy of Keli Schimelpfenig

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