Christmas kindness at our Liverpool Day Nursery
Who remembers being read ‘The Little Match Girl’ in their youth? It is not the tale often told to little ones today. More likely they hear ‘triumph over adversity’ stories of animated animals, toys or wizards beating the odds against the dark forces. Voldemort never prevails. Rather, one could argue, a Disneyfied view of Christmas sees children’s wishes come true, making them ill-equipped to know what to do with unhappy endings.
Children are given plenty of ideas of what Santa can do for them
So perhaps a reminder of ‘The Little Match Girl’ by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen wouldn’t hurt. This children’s tale from 1845 highlights a dying child’s unfulfilled hopes. She is unfortunate enough to be raised in poverty. Wearing shoes too big for her, she soon loses them. She’s out in the winter’s cold. To keep warm she strikes matches she’s meant to sell. As she lights a match, she sees a vision of her grandmother, the only person to have treated her with kindness. But the warmth from the match is short-lived and she soon dies in the street.
But her story is not the only desperate one around. Gareth Jenkins, director of UK Poverty at Save the Children said: “It’s shocking that in 21st century Britain, a child’s chances in life are determined by whether they’re born rich or poor.” His comments referred to the fact that in the last decade 500,000 poorer children are not ‘school-ready’ by the age of five, according to a recent Social Mobility Commission report.
Poverty’s grip on children has meant the charity Buttle UK gets to know about children facing circumstances that many are unaware of. It’s a bleak reality that thousands of children in the UK do not have their own bed to sleep in. According to the Children’s Society, 1.4 million families in the UK are in terrible debt.
Hundreds of thousands of children live with relatives, because their parents can no longer look after them. Few of these ‘kinship’ carers get formal support (90 per cent have ‘informal’ care arrangements). As a result, a quarter of these children’s carers can’t even afford to put the heating on.
At our Liverpool Day Nursery we help teach children about charity and kindness over Christmas time. We take part in a nativity play and explain various cultures to our children.