A ‘toddle’ can be held between May 1 and June 30. The aim is to raise €300,000 for Barnardos’ work with pre-school children. One in 10 children lives in consistent poverty (as of 2011). That’s 107,000 children in households with incomes below 60% of the national median. This means children can go for 24 hours without a substantial meal, or are cold because parents are unable to heat the home.
Sybil — mum to Hugh, five, Genevieve, five, and Michael, one — says: “There are children who aren’t getting breakfast. I’ve been at schools where they have to provide breakfast, because parents don’t have the money, or the wherewithal, to do so. There are children who never have a meat dinner, who have junk food all the time, or who have cornflakes for dinner.”
In their 40 centres, Barnardos work with children and families whose lives are marred by poverty, neglect and educational disadvantage.
Thirty five percent of children attending Barnardos are aged five and under. The pre-schoolers might not have a safe place to play where they live, or not have a chance to socialise with children their own age. They might not have access to balanced, nutritious meals every day, to books or toys or winter clothing.
Barnardos’ ‘best start’ supports healthy emotional development and school readiness outcomes in children aged 0-5 years. With early intervention, they give children a better start in life by providing them with a place to learn, play safely, have fun and reach their full potential.
“Every childhood lasts a lifetime. If you have a bad one, down the line you’re going to be affected by physical health problems or mental health issues,” says Sybil.
* Families, crèches, schools and groups can register toddlers for the Cow & Gate Big Toddle for Barnardos — visit www.barnardos.ie/bigtoddle or phone 1850 222 300. You receive a free ‘toddle’ pack in the post with fun stuff — hats, stickers, certificates, bunting and health and safety information.