Somewhere to belong this Christmas

The Children’s Society has reported that around 1 in 12 10 to 17-year-olds are unhappy with their relationships with their family. 8.3% of children in this age group are unhappy with their relationships with their friends. 

The charity’s research also reveals that relationships with family and friends are important to children’s overall well-being. 

More research concluded that: 

  • In 2022, children aged 10 to 17 were on average most happy with their family – with an average score of 8.2 out of 10 – followed by their health and their home (both with an average score of 8.1 out of 10). 
  • Almost one third of children (31%) aged 10 to 17 indicated they did not cope well with not being able to see people in their family and 33% that they did not cope well with not being able to see their friends during the pandemic. 

The Children’s Society developed ‘Christingle’ to support vulnerable young people through the festive period. 

These special events take place between the first Advent Sunday (27 November 2022) and Candlemas (3 February 2023). 

They are organised by schools, churches, and community groups all over the country to raise vital funds to help children who are facing Christmas alone or feel like they don’t belong.   

The celebrations have taken place in the Children’s Society for over 50 years, but Christingles themselves date back as far as the 1700s. 

This was when the Moravian church in Germany celebrated Christmas with decorated oranges. 

The celebration is named after the Christingles that are lit during the service.  

Christingles are made from an orange decorated with red tape, sweets and a candle.  

They have been part of The Children’s Society’s history for over 50 years and have helped raise millions of pounds for children and young people. 

Mark Russell, chief executive of The Children’s Society said: “Every young person deserves a good childhood.  

“One where they feel safe and happy, where they can make friends, get an education, and feel like they belong.   

“We are there for children and young people and support them when they’re facing huge life challenges like abuse, neglect, or exploitation, so they can transform their lives.  

“Through our Christingle campaign we want to raise vital funds and awareness that can make life better for the young people we support.”

The Children’s Society shared a case study of a child they helped. Her name was changed to Katie to protect her identity. 

Here is her story, in the words of The Children’s Society: 

Katie was really happy when she was growing up. She knew how much her parents loved her, and she liked spending time with her friends. When she started secondary school, though, things got more difficult.   

Her friendship group got bigger and she started using different social media channels and visiting new websites.  

She didn’t realise it at the time, but some of the things she was seeing and the people she was talking to were putting her at risk. It wasn’t until the police came to talk to her that her and her family understood she might be in danger.   

Katie said: “It was police, a nurse, and a social worker that came round. There was a lot of shame, a lot of embarrassment and a lot of guilt for putting that stress on my mum because she didn’t think anything had been going on.” 

The police put her in touch with The Children’s Society and she met Sophia, one of their project workers.  

She talked to Katie about what she was feeling and what had happened. She took the time to listen. And she told Katie about a group she could join where she could meet other young people in her community.    

There, Katie found a lot of new confidence. She had always been shy and quiet, and she didn’t like taking the lead.  

But with The Children’s Society’s help, Katie was able to enjoy new experiences and opportunities, taking on challenges she’d never have thought she was capable of.    

Katie said: “The Children’s Society puts hope back into children. I always saw them as a bit of a security blanket to keep me on the right track because you felt the love from them. You feel like you’ve got another family.” 

Find out more about the Christingle campaign here

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