"It's very easy to chuck money in a pot. I wanted to feel more involved."

For the last five years, Cath Newman has been enriching the lives of children she has never met, after becoming a child sponsor with ActionAid.

Mbobo, a boy in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Kanchien, a girl in rural Nepal, and Somyaa, a little girl in the Occupied Palestian Territories, are all too young to even write letters, but she receives drawings from them, as well as regular updates from their support workers.

"They send me beautiful drawings; I keep them all up on my fridge,” says Cath, who doesn't have children herself, but feels a strong sense that she can and should help young people in the poorest countries.

“A support worker in the communities also sends me letters telling me how each of the children is getting on and what life is like for them, giving me a real picture of what and where the need is, and what ActionAid is doing in the community to make things easier.”

Cath, 53, came to Worth Matravers, near Swanage, following a long career on the stage and in film. She is married to the landlord of the Square and Compass and now works as a yoga and mindfulness teacher in Purbeck, with Purbeck Mindfulness.

She decided to become a child sponsor with ActionAid after searching for a more engaged way to support youngsters living through poverty and conflict.

"I wanted to be more connected to what I was doing, where my money was going and why," she explains.

"People are very interested to hear about my child sponsorship, and sometimes they don’t realise that it’s an option at all - that you can sponsor a child. I hope as a result I’m part of a global conversation about the difference in what we have here in ‘The West’ and what’s happening in other countries - we need a global conversation about this because there’s a global responsibility.

"I feel really connected to these children, not because I want to feel like I’ve got children, but I want to put something good into their future. I want to know that what I’m doing goes a little way towards improving conditions for them.”

For her first sponsorship, Cath told ActionAid she would be happy to sponsor wherever the need was greatest which, at that time, was Congo. She asked for Nepal because of her links to Buddhism, her lifestyle and her job, and started her third sponsorship, of Somyaa in Palestine, this year.

Through her support of the charity, Cath travelled with ActionAid to Nepal in October to help a group of volunteers start to re-build a school devastated by the 2014 earthquake. She raised £5,000 to cover the cost of the trip and buy materials for the rebuild by giving mindfulness lessons for donations.

Cath has experienced some criticism of her efforts to help children abroad, with detractors suggesting she should be supporting poor children at home. While she does also give money to British charities, Cath believes the need is greatest in the places she is sponsoring.

“I’m aware that there is dreadful poverty for children in the UK, but when it comes down to really basic stuff - clean water, safe housing, education, giving is just about where you think you can help,” she says.

“When I went to Nepal I was amazed at the level of poverty I witnessed. I was criticised for my trip to Nepal, as if it was an adventure holiday with a bit of work at the end. It wasn’t like that at all.

"Those children are getting a new school, and we raised more money than planned meaning we can also fund a toilet block next to the school. So I don’t really care what people might say about it: I’m doing something.

"In child sponsorship you’re not saving the entire world, but you are making a little difference somewhere.”

:: ActionAid is extending its Christmas campaign, No Girl Afraid, in a bid to attract more child sponsors. To find out more about how you can help, visit actionaid.org.uk/christmas-appeal-no-girl-afraid