Hallam FM’s Cash for Kids’ appeal aims to assist families on zero hours contracts, who may be dealing with reduced or completely cut-back hours, or with no access to sick pay.
Alongside The Star’s #therewithyou campaign – working to bring our communities together - this appeal is relying on donations from local people to build a fund, from which grants will help the most vulnerable within our society, covering basic essentials including food and heating bills.
“After everything happened at the end of March, we managed to get the appeal launched in less than a week,” said Allan Ogle, Cash for Kids charity manager.
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“It’s difficult to explain just how much goes on behind the scenes and at first I had absolutely no idea how it was going to go.
“Many of our charity’s supporters have been furloughed or are working from home - some who are less fortunate have lost their jobs.
“Businesses are also seeking government support to survive - we’ve never faced anything like this with a health pandemic and a fractured economy, both of which have completely derailed our traditional fundraising streams.”
According to recent figures, 31 per cent of children in South Yorkshire are currently living in poverty, struggling to get access to the basic essentials many of us take for granted.
For these families, having games consoles, fridge full of food, and access to educational material on the internet are unattainable.
Allan said: “In the weeks before lockdown, many organisations and charities were scaling back their activities to protect the health of workers, and many foodbanks were reducing hours.
“With schools closing, many children on free school meals were at risk of missing out on as many as two meals per day, and cash-strapped families were facing incredibly tough decisions between keeping a roof over their heads and paying the heating and electric bills.”
Early on in the appeal, Ant & Dec shared a video encouraging people to donate and many of the region’s businesses shared details on their websites and with their clients and customers. Donations began to pour in.
Allan said: “One thing I love about South Yorkshire is the community spirit.
“Despite all the tragedy, we began each day seeing inspiring stories of the lengths people were going to, to help others.
“We had donations from children wanting to give up their pocket money and received messages from people struggling themselves, but wanting to share what they had.”
One such donation came with a note, saying: ‘I’m a mum in Sheffield and I don’t have much spare money but every little helps. I’m caring for two children in our family and know how hard things are at the moment.’
Local businesses also joined, in despite economic uncertainty. Cash for Kids received corporate donations from S2S Group, Truck Hydraulics and an anonymous donation of a five-figure sum, as well as £5,000 from Sheffield Wednesday Community Programme.
And as the donations started coming in, so did the applications.
Allan said: “Food banks, refuges, schools, all going above and beyond the levels of service and expectation still find themselves struggling and needing help – that’s exactly what the appeal was set up to do.
“One request for support read: ‘some of our parents are dealing with loss of income, mental health and disability issues and are worrying about feeding their families.’ This came from a school just 1.5 miles away from The Sheffield Star offices which really brings home that these children are on our doorsteps.”
Another request read: ‘‘The older child in this family is a carer for her disabled parent and relies on microwave meals. We want to purchase healthy microwave meals so the child can eat during the 12-week isolation.’
So far, 25 primary, secondary, and special schools have benefitted from the appeal, along with five of the regions foodbanks, and several other charities, social services, and community organisations – helping 1,971 children get food and the basic essentials.
In the meantime, Cash for Kids is still processing applications, and Allan described the demand as ‘overwhelming’ but added: “We will aim to help as many charities and organisations as possible.
“We won’t be able to fully fund the majority of applications unless we receive some significant investment.
“As it stands, despite the heroic efforts of everyone involved and the generosity of donors, a further £53,935 is needed to be able to help fill the outstanding asks, giving you an indication of the size of the problem our region is facing with our children struggling for food and the basic essentials.”
Allan added: “I am so grateful to everyone that has donated towards our appeal, and it really shows the community spirit in South Yorkshire that despite a lot of uncertainty and economic turmoil, people still care about those where they live.”
“Whatever happens, we’ve made a tremendous difference in the most testing times to 2,000 local children, who would otherwise have gone without.
“Thank you so much to everyone who has helped to make this happen.”
Visit planetradio.co.uk/hallam/charity/events/appeal-hallam to donate.