With the launch of TLG's Christmas Appeal Tim Morfin, TLG's Founder and Chief Executive, reflects on the crisis of holiday hunger which impacts so many families during the school holidays and how, with your help, TLG is playing its part in answering that need.
For me, school holidays were a time for family and fun. Some of the best memories from my childhood were of our holiday camping trips. It's a tradition Rae and I carried forward, during the holidays taking our three boys away and to create lasting memories.
Yet while we are enjoying time together, I'm aware of the families across the UK who find the holidays a huge struggle.
For the 1.5 million children who receive free school meals during the school term, what happens during the holidays?
For the parents of these children who rely on those school meals to give their child a hot and healthy meal each day, what happens during the holidays?
For the families who struggle enough to balance their budgets on a low income, what happens during the holidays when they are faced with needing an extra £30-£40 per week to feed their children.
The statistics are eye opening. 1 in 5 children in the UK face food insecurity. 1 in 3 parents from low income families have skipped a meal so that their children can eat during the school holidays and more than 6 in 10 parents with household incomes of less than £25,000 said they weren't always able to afford to buy food outside of term-time.
With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, many of us may already be starting to dig out the Christmas decorations, find our favourite Christmas playlist and even think about what we'll need for Christmas dinner. In contrast, some of the families TLG works with are looking towards the holidays with apprehension. How, just how, will they even afford to feed their children let alone afford anything Christmassy?
At TLG, we are not willing to stand by and let this happen. This is where TLG Make Lunch steps in to help.
Throughout every school holiday, TLG Make Lunch clubs across the UK offer children and their families a hot and healthy meal as well as fun activities and a chance to make new friends.
Families, such as Joel, Toria and their three children, who I had the privilege of meeting recently.
Joel, Toria and the family found help through our fantastic Make Lunch club at St Mary's Bredin, Canterbury. Their lives were transformed through the provision, care and friendship they all received.
The family love coming to every Make Lunch club but one of the main highlights of the year has to be the Christmas holiday Make Lunch club. Led by their fantastic coordinator, Mim, every Christmas holiday the TLG Make Lunch club puts the Christmas dinner in the oven, turns on the Christmas music and lays out the festive table decorations.
The children, parents and volunteers alike sit down together and enjoy a festive feast while wearing their cracker hats and sharing the best of the bad jokes. It's a time to not only feed those who would otherwise go hungry, but also for community and laughter. As Toria puts it, 'we all come together and it's like our worries are gone'.
You can watch their story in our brand new video here.
We want to ensure that more families this Christmas have an opportunity to create these special memories of fun, family time and hot festive food, rather than another fortnight of hunger, worry and isolation.
This Christmas we urgently need help from compassionate and caring people like you to make this happen. We are relying on your genorosity to help us feed thousands more children and families during the Christmas season and into 2020.
Whether it's £13 which helps feed a child, £52 which helps feed a family or even £520 which helps to set up a new Make Lunch club, or whatever other figure you are able to give. Please just click here to head over to our Christmas Appeal page to donate.
However much it is, we are so grateful and the families we work with will be so blessed. Every pound raised through our urgent Christmas Appeal will help us to ensure children and families across the UK go into the new year full of hope not hunger.
Tim Morfin is the founder and Chief Executive of TLG. Tim, together with a group of other volunteers from a local church, began TLG by helping young people struggling in school in Bradford. He now leads the organisation nationally, still committed to bringing hope and a future to children and their families. He is married to Rachel and has three teenage sons.