Families whose lives have been blighted by bed poverty have described the emotional moment they were able to tuck their children into bed at night, thanks to the generosity of The Independent readers.
In less than two weeks, our Christmas appeal has raised over £90,000 for the Leeds-based charity Zarach, which will fund 500 beds for the most disadvantaged children.
At a cost of £180 per bed bundle, families are provided with a frame, mattress, duvet, pillows, colourful pyjamas, a hygiene kit and chocolate treats, as well as a £30 food voucher for a festive meal.
After receiving their items, one child said: “Mum is overwhelmed by the generosity of the charity and what the family have received. It’s a major help, it’s amazing what has been done. Even to the two men that delivered in festive outfits.
“The children love the PJs and mum kept saying thank you. The food vouchers will come in handy for Christmas. Mum said Christmas has now officially started.”
A recent report by child organisation Barnardo’s found that nearly 900,000 children either sleep on the floor, on sofas or share with family members, affecting both their mental wellbeing and educational performance.
It was also discovered that more than 187,000 families have been unable to change their children’s bedding in the last 12 months due to the cost of washing and drying.
“I have so much to think about and pay for, food, gas and everything is so expensive that I can’t think about extras,” one parent said. “This has been a huge help.”
Another parent said the bed bundle was a “huge weight” lifted from their shoulders, while another said they were left in tears at additional items such as a reading book and shampoo and body gel.
In order to establish which families are struggling with bed poverty, Zarach has partnered with more than 500 secondary and primary schools who provide them with referrals.
Once beds have been delivered, the charity remains in contact with schools to receive reports on the child’s progress, with 76 per cent reporting an improvement in behaviour.
As a result, teachers have often been able to build a closer relationship with families and students.
One piece of feedback read: “I have been out this morning to visit a family who took delivery of their beds and packages. I have never seen the family so happy and excited. They were so proud to have new beds and show me everything they had received.
“They have never had anything brand new before, everything has either been passed down from family or bought from second hand shops. To actually own something that has never been used by another person is beyond anything they could have dreamed of.
“I cannot thank you, or your organisation enough, for changing a family’s life.”
Speaking to The Independent, CEO Andy Peers said: “Our mission is to end child bed poverty in England but there’s a reason we want to end child bed poverty; it’s to give children the opportunity to engage at school. Everybody recognises that education is a really clear way to break that future cycle of poverty.”
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