As nights draw in and temperatures drop, anyone with a heart feels for people in London and throughout the country who have no choice but to live on the streets. But we must also remember that the misery of being cold and hungry and facing hardship does not end just because someone has a roof over their head. When winter bites, it is children in poverty who feel the impact.
Recent research by the Food Foundation revealed that four million children live in households affected by food insecurity. In a survey of 2,000 working parents in London, 25 per cent had skipped a meal or not fed themselves to ensure their children could eat. One in 10 had less than £3 a day to spend on food. According to the Childhood Trust, almost one in 10 children feel embarrassed of the methods their families are forced to use to get food: a shame no child, or parent, should experience.
These statistics are heart-breaking and unacceptable. That is why the Evening Standard and Comic Relief are coming together this Christmas to help families struggling to put food on the table — and why we at West Ham United are backing their Winter Survival Appeal.
We must also remember that the misery of being cold and hungry and facing hardship does not end just because someone has a roof over their head
We know who we are — a Premier League club at the heart of London with working-class roots that stretch back almost 130 years to the Thames Ironworks shipyards, formed by Arnold Hills, a man who believed football could be a positive force for the community. These are values we uphold to this day.
That is why our West Ham Foundation already supports more than 35 community outreach initiatives, reaching over 50,000 people, with a focus on the fight against poverty.
This winter, together with your support, the Winter Survival Appeal will get funding into the hands of organisations working to help families through the winter months — from baby banks that give parents essentials they need, to sustainable community food hubs.
Above all, these organisations create a welcoming environment so that, when parents and children use them, it doesn’t feel like a handout but rather like a community coming together.
There’s no embarrassment, just generosity and care. That is what this time of year should be about. With your support, that’s exactly what we aim to bring.
Baroness Brady is vice chair of West Ham United football club