The Whiterock Children’s Centre in west Belfast have launched an urgent Christmas appeal for donations.
A spokeswoman for the centre said: “We have been helping families in a very small way for many years over the Christmas period. We didn’t plan to take on this role it just fell on our lap.
“It initially started with the work we were doing with minority ethnic families who had settled in west Belfast. The majority of them are asylum seekers or refugees who basically had nothing so we got donations of furniture, clothing and food for them.
“But over the last few years we have witnessed an increase in requests for help especially at Christmas from local families.
“This mainly was coming through our local family support workers. People are finding it harder and harder to manage on less and less money coming into the homes. This is not always families who are on benefits it is also the working poor as well. We get food parcel requests on a weekly basis but at Christmas this increases dramatically.
“I could give all kinds of reasons for the increased need but I am not an economist but I am a realist and I see how difficult it is for me to manage on a daily basis, so what must it be like if you have three or four young children and a limited amount of money coming into the home.
“Whiterock is one of the most deprived area in Northern Ireland so it should be no surprise that people are in dire need.
“Last year we supported 50 families through the help of a number of groups and individuals and the local community were so generous as well.
“This year we had nearly 100 children’s names given to us. We sent out an email at the start of this week requesting help for people to take on a child to buy for. The response has been amazing from across the city. But we still need more.
“We want to provide a new outfit for a child a small present and maybe a selection box. So if anyone feel’s they can help we would really appreciate it even if a group want to take on a child between them.
“If you ring us on 90438438 and ask for Maura Maguire she will give you the age and sex of the child. Obviously we can’t give out names and we would appreciate that they reach the centre on or before December 18 to give us enough time to get them delivered to homes.”