Christmas is a time of year that is meant to be enjoyed with family and friends, but for those living in poverty in the UK, it can be a struggle to get by.
Poverty can be simply defined as a lack of basic needs, including adequate income and access to basic necessities like food and shelter. In the UK, millions of people struggle every day with economic insecurity due to low incomes and inadequate government support. This inequality can have devastating consequences, especially for those living in poverty during Christmas.
Children living in poverty at Christmas
According to research from The Poverty Site, over four million children in the UK are living in poverty, meaning they are missing out on many of the things that other children take for granted at this time of year. Many parents are forced to choose between essential needs like heating or rent and buying presents for their children or family members. Some people even have to rely on food banks in order to make ends meet around Christmas time.
No child should have to go without at Christmas time, but sadly this is the reality for far too many in the UK. Poverty can have a profound effect on children's mental and physical health. There is evidence that poverty-related stress can lead to poorer mental and physical health in childhood. Poor health in turn can lead to absenteeism from school, which can then have an impact on educational attainment. Educational disadvantage has been shown to be a major factor in intergenerational cycles of poverty.
Christmas poverty and mental health
In addition to economic deprivation, individuals experiencing poverty may also face other struggles over Christmas such as increased levels of social exclusion and isolation. Those living in deprived communities are often marginalised and excluded from participating in activities that their wealthier counterparts take part in every year; like attending carol concerts or sending cards to family members. This creates an added feeling of loneliness and sadness during the festive season which can worsen mental health conditions and decrease well-being amongst these individuals.
It is vital that more is done within the UK community to reduce poverty levels so that everyone can enjoy Christmas without worrying about basic necessities being met. Providing accessible support systems and creating educational programmes can help tackle inequalities associated with deprivation and help more people break out of cycles of poverty in the long run.
Banding together during a national emergency
It's more important now than ever to give to charitable causes around this time of year. Charities Aid Foundation reported that the percentage of those that gave has fallen this November to 36% instead of 43% at the same period in previous year. This can partially be put down to Covid restrictions still applying to some fundraising campaigns therefore gaining less notability, but most prominently it is down to the fact that many are no longer in as strong a position to give.
As food prices and energy bills hit levels unseen in decades, the effects are being felt by everyone but those at the bottom of the income ladder are feeling it the most. For the 14.5 million people living in poverty in the U.K at the moment, their hope lies in the diligence of the government and the generosity of the public, particularly those in positions of priviledge.
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Find out more about Tej Kohli: Tej Kohli the technologist investing in human triumph, Tej Kohli the philanthropist trying to cure the developing world of cataracts and Tej Kohli the London tycoon with a generous streak.