NEARLY half of children living in lone-parent families live in poverty.

Figures from the charity Child Poverty Action Group show that 44 per cent of children with single parents face this hardship.

As these parents are forced to cut back, sometimes going without meals for themselves, electricity or heating, many will be unable to afford Christmas presents this year.

Faithworks aims to change this with its SMILE Christmas Campaign.

The SMILE project provides support, activities and friendship for lone-parent families, aiming to create a community of families, supporting each other.

Bournemouth Echo: Racheal Peck and a SMILE volunteer.

It currently supports more than 100 single-parent families in the area and Faithworks wants to make these children smile by giving them presents.

Racheal Peck, SMILE lone parent families project lead said: “We take time to choose a specific gift that each child will value.

“Our campaign is not about young people receiving more presents but about demonstrating that each child has been remembered at Christmas and is valued.

“The pressure at Christmas means that parents are putting themselves in debt by paying on credit to make sure that their kids don’t miss out. The impact doesn’t necessarily affect them straight away but does affect the rest of the year.

Racheal added: “By providing every child with a Christmas present, we are hoping that the SMILE Christmas Campaign will enable families to avoid unnecessary debt and therefore have more resources to cope with the cost of living the rest of the year.”

Bournemouth Echo: Families at the SMILE lone parent fair.

The project is increasingly supporting families coping with additional needs, disabilities and complex issues.

Lucy Whiteway, SMILE link worker said: “SMILE has grown so much in the last few years. More professional services are referring clients to us, and the families’ needs are greater than ever before.”

In 2022, SMILE had to purchase many of the Christmas presents it gifted to families.

The Faithworks Christmas Campaign this year will allow the project to invest funds in other essential areas throughout the year.

The charity is now seeking donations of 200 new children’s Christmas presents and 60 presents for mums.

It is asking for financial donations to the project and 14 volunteers to help wrap and deliver presents.

Donations can be arranged by calling the charity and delivering them to the Faithworks office in Heron Court Road, Bournemouth.

The presents must be suitable for ages 0-18, with a particular need for ages 8-15.

They must be new and still in the packaging. Examples include Lego, a book voucher, luxury hot water bottles and craft sets.

The charity said gifts that aid child development, are educational or build self-esteem are ‘ideal’.

Eight volunteers are needed to help wrap gifts on December 18 and 19, with six further volunteers needed to help with the Christmas Elf Delivery on December 19 – own transport is required.

For more information, visit, contact the charity at or call 01202 429037.