As we move towards the Christmas break it does feel to be all around us. Invitations to school events in the in-tray, my annual donning of a Santa suit for the reception classes at my wife's school and conversations about the trials and tribulations of family Christmases past and planned. For many a time of real joy, a time spent with family and friends, and I wish you a good one however you choose to celebrate. Yet there is sadly another side for all too many.
Whatever your take on the Christmas story there is something prophetic that it centres on a homeless family, fleeing persecution and relying on gifts brought by strangers, at a time when more families find themselves without security of tenure and for whom Christmas will be in temporary accommodation or worse spent homeless. It is hard not to think of the families who were involved in the Grenfell Tower disaster, but we should remember they are just the most visible example of the difficulties families face as a result of local authorities being unable to provide good quality accommodation that allow a family to turn a house into a home.
Similarly, for those of you attending carol services the carols we sing have a similar prophetic ring, the picture of Good King Wenceslas taking food out to the poor in the story echoes with those who are challenged to put food on the table. Our local food bank has been having a major push to restock as a result of being very heavily depleted during the summer school holidays so that families will be able to celebrate on Christmas Day in the same way I hope you and I will be. Whilst I think the work that food banks do is remarkable I don't share the view of some that it is to be celebrated as a sign of a society that cares but rather a disgrace that they need to exist at all. Surely as one of the wealthiest country's in the world people should have access to reliable work, earning a reasonable wage and a benefit system which provides for those in greatest need. The recent rise in child poverty, expected to reach 5.1 million by 2022, is not something we can simply accept without comment.
As an association we have championed the need for a country that works for all children - having children growing up in families that have a secure home and food on the table doesn't seem too much to ask, neither does a country that sees levels of child poverty falling not rising. A good starting point would be an ambitious child poverty reduction strategy. ADCS will go into the new year resolute in doing all we can to play our part in achieving the vision of a country that works for all children, but in the meantime how about matching the money you spend on food for Christmas on a donation to your local food bank?
Stuart Gallimore is DCS in East Sussex and vice-president of the ADCS. This article first appeared on the ADCS website