For many young people, Christmas is a special time celebrated with friends and family. But for some it can be a lonely day - filled with abuse and neglect like any other. Today, with two months to go until Christmas, The Children’s Society has launched its #Christingle50 campaign - supporting vulnerable young people through raising funds at Christingle events and a collaboration with The Royal Academy of Music.

The Children’s Society reports that 200,000* 10 to 17 year olds in the UK are experiencing emotional neglect on a regular basis, unable to turn to their parents if they had a problem or were upset. Some children facing emotional neglect are also struggling with other difficulties at home that create far from a picture of a happy Christmas. The charity found that:

·         11% of 10 to 17 year olds experiencing emotional neglect also do not have their own bed (either sharing a bed or did not have a bed at all)

·         21% 10 to 17 year olds  experiencing emotional neglect had also been homeless in the last 5 years

·         20% of 10 to 17 year olds experiencing emotional neglect also lived in a household that had used a food bank in the last 5 years. Christingle at St Albans

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society explains: “The children we support deal with huge issues in their daily lives. Sadly, Christmas Day for them is no different and for many it simply amplifies the challenges they face. Too many young people will wake up on Christmas morning like any other - feeling alone and unable to cope. Through our 50th anniversary Christingle campaign we want to change that – we believe that no child should feel alone.”

Christingles are special events organised by schools, churches, and community groups all over the country to raise vital funds to help children who are facing Christmas alone or are unable to cope. This year marks the 50th anniversary of The Children’s Society bringing Christingle to this country, with a service first held in Lincoln Cathedral in 1968. To celebrate the landmark anniversary, The Children’s Society has created an original song for schoolchildren, congregations or community choirs to include in their Christingle services.

The song, ‘Light a Candle’, has been composed exclusively for The Children's Society by Louise Drewett, a young composer currently studying at the Royal Academy of Music, and the words have been specially written by poet Clare Shaw. The song is available to download and listen to or learn for free from The Children’s Society website.

The song will be performed at Christingle celebrations in churches and Cathedrals all over the country and also features in a special advent episode of Songs of Praise on BBC One on 2nd December.

Poet Clare Shaw says: “Having come through abuse and familial estrangement myself, I know that music and poetry can be a transformative experience for young people. Louise and I wrote this piece to be accessible to everyone but I hope that for some it will speak at a deeper level and that lines like ‘no child should feel alone’ will have a resonance. The Children’s Society really understands how difficult life can be for some children.”

Composer Louise Drewett says: “I work regularly with community choirs and I believe singing can be a powerful way to bring people together and to express an important message, so I was delighted to be able to write a song for this special occasion. With this song, we’re encouraging people all over the country to raise their voices in support of young people.”

Christingle is a festive tradition that was brought to the UK in 1968 by The Children’s Society to help disadvantaged children and young people. The event is now celebrated in hundreds of churches, cathedrals, schools and communities up and down the country. The celebration is named after the Christingles that are lit during the service. Christingles are made from an orange decorated with red tape, sweets and a candle.

To find your nearest service, visit www.childrenssociety.org.uk. The Christingle Song is available to download and listen to or learn for free from  christingle.org/song.

Support young people by donating to the #Christingle50 campaign or attending a local Christingle Service. For more information, visit www.christingle.org.

*Findings from a survey conducted on behalf of the Children’s Society survey in England, Scotland and Wales that is socio-economically representative of these countries. In May-June 2017, 3,000 children aged 10-17, or their parents, were asked whether they experienced any of 27 disadvantages identified by The Children’s Society in the last 5 years. Based on this data, we have then used ONS population estimates to estimate that 200,000 10-17 year-olds have experienced emotional neglect.

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