We spoke with the support workers at our local women’s refuge, Reigate & Banstead Women’s Aid (RBWA), as they were busy preparing their Santa Stork Christmas lists for the families currently under their care and protection. They conveyed the strain these families are under and what Santa Stork means to them at this difficult time of year…
For many children spending Christmas in a refuge, they are still young enough to believe in the magic of Christmas and that Santa is real. One big worry for them is that now they are living somewhere new, Santa won’t be able to find them. We work closely with the refuge to ensure that he can!
WE know they are there because they need to be. MUM knows it’s the safest place for them all. But all THEY know is they’ve left their family, friends and toys behind. They can’t understand how Christmas is going to work this year.
For children it can be such a frightening and unsettling time, not filled with joy or laughter as it should be, but with fear and tears. For some, bruises and broken toys are memories of Christmas’ gone by.
Some of the children have never even had a visit from Santa. It’s not uncommon to hear words like:
“Father Christmas forgot me last year”.
“Father Christmas never comes, Daddy says it’s because I’m naughty”.
Letters like the following have been written: “Dear Father Christmas, don’t worry about me, but please bring something for my baby sister”.
For women in abusive relationships, Christmas is also a terrifying time. The festive period often sees an increase in risks of domestic violence due to spending more time with an abusive partner, higher alcohol consumption and financial pressures. Some see the run-up to Christmas as their last opportunity to escape, but many refuges are full.
The nearer it gets to Christmas, the more talk of presents and Father Christmas is heard from the refuge children. Mums have big concerns and worries over how they will be able to afford gifts for their children.
Some children are told by Mum that there won’t be any presents this year. Mums can feel terribly guilty about this and the pull back to an abusive relationship is huge.
The great news is that because of Santa Stork, these children can be told: “Yes, Father Christmas does come to the refuge and he knows exactly where you are!”. Fortunately for the 11 women and 24 children spending Christmas at RBWA, Christmas will find them!
Santa Stork allows the refuge workers to support the Mums in providing Christmas presents for their children and say: “Don’t worry, we can help”. And, of course, Santa never forget the Mums, a wrapped toiletry gift set will be waiting for them under the tree on Christmas morning.
Santa Stork enables the support workers to excite the children by telling them: “Santa knows exactly where you are, he comes every year to the children living here”. He’s been coming with his reindeer and orange Stripey Stork helper by his side, and has never let them down yet.
But, we need your help to ensure ALL local children faced with not receiving a present this Christmas are not forgotten. We want them to feel the magic on Christmas morning when they see their presents lying under the tree, be excited when they see gifts in their stocking, and feel like the other children from school on Christmas morning.
We have a big job on our hands, but with your help we can ensure every child on our list is remembered this Christmas.
See About Santa Stork for details of our Christmas campaign and how you can help.
Thank you for your support and we wish all the children and Mums living at the RBWA refuge this Christmas, a safe and happy Christmas.