1 December 2023

‘Lost Christmas’ – a bleak winter ahead for UK families

Baby bank charity say parents are worried about being able to afford gifts and any festive trimmings 

New research from baby bank network Little Village has revealed it’s not the season to be jolly for too many families.  

Nearly half (42%) are worried about being able to afford gifts for their children. Families in the North East (58%) displayed the highest concern, with London at 41% and Wales the least worried (26%). One third are worried about being able to buy enough food and drink (33%) during the festive season, as well as celebratory treats like decorations and party food (32%).    

Gas and electricity prices continue to be a real cause of concern for families, with 55% of those on the lowest incomes fearing being able to afford essential heating to stay warm this winter. One fifth (21%) of families are worried about being able to cover housing costs, rising to 28% of London families.  

Due to financial worries families are planning to reach out for extra support:  

  • One in four (25%) by asking for food and borrowing money from friends and family;   
  • 12% of parents between 25-34 years-old say they will need to visit a baby bank for essential clothes, toys and equipment for their children;  
  • One in ten (10%) will need the support of a food bank; 
  • Just under one in ten (8%) will be using Healthy Start vouchers to be able to afford milk and baby formula. This increases to 11% in London.  

The research findings aren’t a surprise to Little Village which has seen a steep demand for its support. The charity has already supported over 7560 children in 2023, helping 25 per cent more families across London than at the same point in 2022. This year it has already provided 2,500 blankets and over 6,120 coats and with Christmas a particularly busy period, the charity is doing all it can to meet demand.  

Sophie Livingstone, CEO of Little Village said: “Yet again we are finding it difficult to keep up with demand across the festive period. Each week, the number of requests for our help exceeds our capacity.   

“The parents we see every day are struggling to afford essentials like warm clothing and bedding, let alone toys. It’s so unfair that there are so many families unable to celebrate with even some of the trimmings. Another future has to be possible. We hope that the public will support our Christmas appeal and so we can reach more families with the essential things they need – as well as a little festive cheer.”  

Little Village has launched a Christmas appeal to help it reach more families with the things they desperately need including bundles of pre-loved warm clothes, blankets and toys. Donating just £10 will enable Little Village to deliver a ‘bundle of joy’ box to a family.   

A mum who has been supported by Little Village said: “I was alone with my two daughters, I wanted to buy them Christmas gifts but didn’t have any money to spare.   

“As well as clothes and toiletries, the delivery from Little Village meant I had some toys to give my daughters as Christmas presents, I hid them and so they were a happy surprise on Christmas morning. But more than that, I felt a huge sense of relief. That I wasn’t alone, that someone cared.”