Parents’ concerns about the future can be seen in food aid and help services – the Good Holiday Spirit collection brings hope to low-income families during the festive season
The future worries low-income families with children applying for help through the Finnish Red Cross’s food aid and the phone and chat services for parents of the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare (MLL). The goal of the Good Holiday Spirit collection organised by these two organisations and Yle is to distribute food vouchers for Christmas to 22,000 low-income families.
The Good Holiday Spirit collection launching this Thursday for the benefit of low-income families with children is especially sorely needed this year. At the moment, around 130,000 children in Finland live in low-income families.
The inflation rate that started to climb early last year has alone increased the number of children living within a minimum budget with 30,000 children. At the same time, the discussions on cuts to social security allowances concern many low-income families.
These concerns have also become apparent in the food aid services of the Finnish Red Cross, for example.
“The parents we meet all across Finland in food distribution services speak about feeling hopeless. Many are afraid that they can no longer look after their family due to rising prices and the planned cuts to allowances,” says the Finnish Red Cross’s social welfare coordinator Maaret Alaranta.
“Our district workers in several municipalities say that children now tend to eat more than before during shared meals. When the families’ situation is like this, it is not possible to implement any cuts targeted at low-income families without a major detriment to the children.”
Many are afraid that they can no longer look after their family due to rising prices and the planned cuts to allowances.
Poverty of families has reasons such as unemployment and single parenting, but, more and more often, even parents with short-term or part-time jobs are unable to provide the basics of daily life to their children due to their low income.
If implemented, the cuts to social security allowances will force more and more families to repeatedly lean on forms of support intended as last resorts and temporary: social assistance and food aid.
Children need hope to grow
Concerns about livelihood impact the mood of the whole family. The parents’ continuous stress over livelihood burdens the children, and children worry and feel guilty about the family’s difficulties, too. At its worst, the long-term stress may expose the children to mental health problems.
“At the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare’s assistance services, we hear both the children’s and the parents’ concerns about families’ tight financial situations. Money troubles come up as concrete requests for help, as there is no money to set up Christmas for the children, and as the life situation is difficult in itself,” says Anna Weckström, senior specialist of helplines and digital services of the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare’s helping low-income families.
Money troubles come up as concrete requests for help, as there is no money to set up Christmas for the children, and as the life situation is difficult in itself.
“In the services for children and adolescents, the financial worries of adults are reflected in the children’s words. They speak about their stress, worry and shame. They may wonder whether their parents will have enough money next month to pay for rent and whether they could make the situation easier by quitting their hobby, for example.”
Good Holiday Spirit voucher brings joy to the holiday season of 22,000 families
These experiences are highlighted at Christmas time. The parents of low-income families often have trouble getting things for their children to create festive feelings, such as holiday meals and gifts. Warm Christmas memories are important as they stay with us long into adulthood and give hope.
On Thursday, 16 November, the Finnish Red Cross and the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare will launch their traditional Good Holiday Spirit collection that brings joy to low-income families with children through food vouchers worth €70. The collection target is €1,540,000, which would allow acquiring vouchers for 22,000 low-income families in Finland.
The vouchers allow the families to buy food for the Christmas table. The organisations are holding the collection in cooperation with Yle, and the collection partners are K Group grocery shops, Lidl and the S Group grocery shops.
The Finnish Red Cross and the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare are working together with local maternity and child health clinics, social services and church social workers to identify families in need of help. As the name suggests, the gift voucher is a gift, which means it cannot be applied for.
The Good Holiday Spirit collection will be organised for the 27th time in 2023, and will continue until Christmas Eve. Over the years, a total of 398,500 food vouchers have been distributed thanks to the collection.
Donations can be made in several ways:
- Online at hyvajoulumieli.fi/en/
- Through MobilePay to the number 66020
- Through a bank transfer to the Good Holiday Spirit collection account: IBAN FI33 5780 4120 0801 60; Reference number 5429
- By calling the donation number 0600 16555 (€10.01 + local network charge/local call charge)
- Via SMS:
- Donate €10 by texting HJM10 to 16499
- Donate €20 by texting HJM20 to 16499
- Donate €30 by texting HJM30 to 16499
Fundraising permit: RA/2020/1407/9 November 2020 (FRC). RA/2020/1486/23 November 2020 (MLL) and ÅLR 2022/8376/31 October 2022.