No place to play, no privacy, nowhere to study and no hope – more than 1,000 kids are destined to spend this Christmas in a B&B room somewhere in Birmingham.
From babes in arms to teens on the cusp of adulthood, they are the hidden victims of a housing and child poverty crisis that’s tearing through our city, made worse by the financial and social impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
In rooms designed for weekend stays, not miserable months, these kids and their families are ekeing out an existence.
Covid restrictions have added to their agony. Strict rules and a ban on visitors impinge the freedom we take for granted.
Places to run around are few, and there’s usually no dining table to share a family meal, nowhere to cook together and nowhere quiet to study.
Teachers say B&B living has a hugely detrimental impact on kids already on the margins of society – many are struggling with tiredness, turn up hungry or miss school all together because the journey times between hotels and the schoolgates can be so long.
There is no quick solution, no wand to wave to magic up the family homes desperately needed.
But today BirminghamLive is launching #Brumwish, our mission to ensure every one of our homeless B&B kids has a gift to open on Christmas morning. Irrespective of faith or background, we want every one of these kids to know Birmingham cares about them.
We are asking our generous readers to buy gifts from this Amazon Wishlist. We have been working with Birmingham City Council and Amazon to make sure what you buy is delivered to needy children by December 25.
We know you care, you’ve shown it time and again.
We asked you to feed the hungry through our #BrumFeeds initiative – and you did it, by the ton.
Now we’re calling on that amazing Brum spirit again to help out some of our most unfortunate kids.
Thousands of children in Birmingham face a Christmas without a proper home this year – but there is something you can do.
Our campaign, Grant a Christmas #BrumWish, aims to help buy presents for more than 1,000 youngsters cramped together, sharing beds, in soulless rooms in B&Bs.
It is all through an Amazon Wish List – meaning you can personally buy a present that will be delivered before December 25.
Make sure you set delivery to the #BrumWish Campaign, and we will ensure the presents get to the kids.
If you aren’t on Amazon, you can donate money and we will buy, wrap and deliver a gift on your behalf.
You can donate at the Winter Wellbeing VirginMoney page – but make sure you put BRUM in the comments, so the money comes to the campaign.
We appreciate that this winter is like no other and that our residents, communities and businesses are facing unprecedented challenge.
But if you can afford to, please join us and help grant a #BrumWish to every one of these youngsters.
Our wishlist includes goodies ranging in price from £5 to £40, including a stack of tablets to help older kids keep in touch with friends, do their homework and play games.
We’ve added popular toys and gifts – from building blocks to a cuddly sloth, a board game and a set of artist materials, a toy for toddlers and a teddy for the babby.
We have joined forces with the city council to ensure appropriate gifts reach every one of the kids who will be in a B&B or hotel this Christmas, through their network of support workers.
We have also teamed up with Birmingham & Solihull Women’s Aid to get gifts to the estimated 100 kids who will be spending the festive season in one of their refuges or safe houses.
Access the #Brumwish wishlist here – go in and pick and pay for a gift, add your personal message, and the delivery address indicated, and they will be delivered to a central collection depot.
From there the items will be lovingly wrapped and distributed to the kids, with love from Birmingham.
Have you been affected by this story?
Do you have a similar experience you want to share with us?
You can contact Stephanie Balloo on firstname.lastname@example.org and Jane Haynes at email@example.com.
One other thing – if you can’t afford to support the wishlist yourself, please do share it with your friends and neighbours and workmates. Don’t forget to add the hashtag #BrumWish and the link.
We know we can do this together Birmingham. Thank you in advance for your generosity.