THREE out of five people in Wales are considering donating to charity this Christmas, instead of buying gifts, a survey by the disaster relief charity ShelterBox reveals.

The UK-based charity provides emergency shelter and other essential items to families after disaster and has had an ongoing presence in Syrian displacement camps since 2013 – delivering aid to more than 400,000 people across the region.

The survey, revealing how 60% of adults in Wales are thinking about giving a donation to charity this Christmas rather than buying a gift, comes as ShelterBox launches its Christmas appeal to help provide shelter for children and their families in Syria.

Basel and his three young children

This year marks a decade since the start of the war in the country, with many thousands of children and young people among those displaced because of the conflict. For the children who have known nothing but war in their country, this winter won’t be their first spent in a camp having been forced to flee their homes.

When families are far from home, and traumatised from their experiences, having protection from the elements – both heat and cold – is crucial. This winter, ShelterBox will continue to provide Syrian families with aid items like mattresses, blankets, warm clothing and tarpaulins to help shield them from dropping temperatures. Since October 2017, mattresses delivered by ShelterBox are providing 18 million more comfortable night’s sleep to those who need it most.

A good night’s sleep and a safe and stable home on a child’s development is essential according to Professor Paul Howard-Jones, a professor in neuroscience and education at the University of Bristol.

Umm and her children

Known for his role as resident child psychologist on Channel 4’s The Secret Life of 5-Year-Olds, Professor Howard-Jones is supporting ShelterBox’s Christmas campaign.

“A safe and secure home plays a central role in child development by providing a place where children can explore, discover and have those critical interactions with adults that help shape who they will later become,” he says.

“Battling against sleep disruption, diminished self-esteem, isolation and withdrawal can be an emotionally challenging, if not exhausting task for a parent. But this task is made much greater when home is situated in a place that remains unsafe and insecure, where expectations and rewards cannot be consistent, where a child’s natural curiosity and enthusiasm are so easily displaced by traumatic memories but also fear of their current surroundings.”

Umm and her four children were displaced from their home after intense bombing of their village

Harriett Roberts, Director of Fundraising and Communications at ShelterBox, adds: “After 10 years of war, families in Syria are facing another desperately cold winter in displacement camps, away from homes and communities they’ve had to flee.

“When conflict displaces people in this way, providing shelter from the elements is crucial and with winter temperatures regularly below 5 degrees in Syria, items like blankets and winter clothes are essential.

“We’re asking for support for our Christmas campaign. We rely on our kind supporters to help us provide shelter and the necessary items that will help keep people warm during the cold months.”

  • £24 could buy a thermal baby bundle to reassure parents through the winter months
  • £52 could provide a collection of winter clothes to keep children warm and cosy during the cold winter
  • £95 could give a winter-proof home kit to keep families warm and dry this winter
  • £119 could provide a home repair kit, giving families the essentials to rebuild their homes