DECEMBER 21ST - WE SEE YOU
The United Nations Children’s Fund, better known as Unicef, was established 74 years ago this month to provide humanitarian aid to children throughout the world. When we think of Unicef aid our thoughts often turn to third world countries where girls and boys grow up in abject poverty with limited access to education, healthcare or even clean water. In 2020, though, for the first time, Unicef is supporting Britain.
There are 2.4 million British children living in households that can’t fully provide for them. This Autumn an extra 900,000 children were registered for free school meals due to coronavirus-enforced poverty. To counter this, Unicef has pledged £25,000 to School Food Matters, an initiative that will supply 18,000 healthy breakfasts to schoolgirls and boys over the Christmas and February half-term holidays. We appreciate Unicef’s generosity, of course, although we’d be far happier if it wasn’t so obviously needed. The idea of children going hungry is heartbreaking, but the idea of anyone, of any age going hungry is heartbreaking. Looking after children’s best interests is a good start, but what about people who’ve worked hard all their lives and now find themselves in need of a helping hand?
There are older people in the Manselton area who’ve been forced to do without hot meals because they don’t have the food or the means to cook it. It’s part of a cruel pattern in which people who deserve our respect and attention can find themselves being ignored. This summer one older person in this area told me that there were times in recent years when they felt as if they were becoming invisible. In 2020 they’ve been seen. Lisa and Dai Challenger have seen them.
After supplying countless free, high quality cooked meals for local people this year, Lisa and Dai had planned to host a Christmas dinner for a group of our older residents at a suitable venue. Ongoing social distancing restrictions made that impossible, so they turned to Plan B, and today fifty OAPs across Manselton, Bonymaen and St Thomas will have beautifully prepared Christmas dinners delivered to them. Lisa and Dai have given huge amounts of their time, skills and resources to make this happen, never expecting a penny in return or even asking for any thanks, and they’ve had sterling support from volunteer drivers who are transporting the food.
For today’s grateful diners, their meals will be a reminder that at the end of a long, trying year, their community hasn’t forgotten them. They are still respected and valued. They still count. They might not have an international organisation looking out for them, or even a government, but they do have the selfless kindness of friends on their doorsteps who will never turn their backs on them. They have Lisa and Dai Challenger telling them “we see you”.