Many local families are facing a tough Christmas without food and heat.

Children living in families already dependent on handouts and food banks could well find little or no Christmas presents under the tree this year.

Our organisation, which supports women, young people and children affected by domestic abuse, have launched a Christmas appeal to raise funds to provide food and heat to families, as well as toys for children.

“The situation for some families is now at crisis point. The pressure on families, who are already struggling to make ends meet, is intolerable, explained Foyle Women’s Aid Director, Marie Brown.

“Christmas, which should be a magical time especially for children, is turning into a nightmare for some families,”she said.

A recent survey by our organisation, found that more than half the women who responded stated that fuel and food were the main needs this year. A total of 45 percent said that they were also struggling to buy toys for their children.

“Women have been telling us that they are worried about running out of groceries and items like nappies and baby formula in the days after Christmas, “said Marie Brown.

“In many cases they have tried to sort out Christmas for their children first but they just don’t have enough money for everything. The reality is that there will be cold houses and empty cupboards for some this year.”

Women and children who have experienced domestic abuse often have nowhere else to turn for help, she explained. Foyle Women’s Aid accommodated almost 70 families last year, made homeless due to domestic violence.

The organisation had over 550 referrals last year from women seeking help in relation to domestic abuse.  This year over 20 families will spend Xmas away from their homes in secure refuge accommodation, many more are living with violence, fear and poverty in the community.

The organisation has seen a rise in financial abuse which has left women with no access to their bank accounts or their benefits.  Women who leave abusive relationships to set up home again are dependent on charity for basic household items.

“As little as £5 could make a difference this year,” she said. “That could top up someone’s electricity for a few days.”

“£10 will buy a food voucher, £20 a Christmas dinner and £50 and £100 will buy a delivery of home heating oil,” she explained.

If you would like to donate please visit Foyle Women’s Aid website at www.foylewomensaid.org.

You can donate by text –  FWAD02 £5 to 70070 or by Just Giving,  Paypal, cash or cheque or by calling into our premises at 24 Pump Street, Derry.

More information about how to donate is available by phoning our Pathways Office on 028 71416800.