Struggling mum makes cardboard chimney inside tiny flat so Santa can still visit
the chimney for Christmas Day – which happens to be daughter Arwen’s birthday.
Having had to move to the top floor in a block of flats means making the day a fairytale for four-year-old Arwen is not easy.
So former bus driver Stacey, 30, from Newport, South Wales, who started a baking business before lockdown to stave off financial hardship, is again being creative.
“We want to make it a magical Christmas for her,” she insists.
“I’m making some decorations for the flat and I’m going to create a big fireplace and chimney stack out of cardboard and paint it, so Santa can visit us.”
We are raising funds for Save the Children UK to buy gifts for some of the country’s most vulnerable youngsters and also offer Christmas meals to hard-up families.
Every penny you donate to our Save a Kid’s Christmas appeal really will make a difference.
Stacey and her family have faced a challenging few years.
Her partner, who has asked not to be named, suffered a brain haemorrhage not long after Arwen was born.
Shortly afterwards, Stacey was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
“It has been a tough few years for us,” admits Stacey.
“When my partner fell ill it was such as scare and our whole lives turned upside down. He was unable to work for a while and I suffered from post-natal depression which has affected my mental health.
“We had to move a few times, got into debt and were unable to pay our rent.
“It was a really stressful time and our daughter has seen a lot of change, but she has coped with it well.”
Before lockdown, Stacey was having some success with her cake-making, selling produce at local fairs and events.
But when lockdown came in March her business stalled and she has had to claim Universal Credit.
To make matters worse, Stacey’s partner was made redundant as the company he worked for suddenly closed.
The family received a Save the Children Emergency Response Grant to buy a new washing machine when theirs broke earlier this year.
“It was a real lifesaver as I became really stressed about how I’d be able to cope with doing all the washing,” Stacey says.
“We couldn’t go to my partner’s parents to do it due to restrictions and being in the top flat we don’t have a garden to dry the clothes.
“It was all piling up and was really stressful so when I got the call to say we’d been given the grant it lifted my mood straight away. We’re really grateful.”
Getting by on a shoestring became even more of a challenge during lockdown. Friends and family were a huge help.
They have also received an early learning pack and Lego set from Save the Children, which Stacey will give Arwen for Christmas.
She says: “We’re being careful as things are still tight, but Universal Credit has helped.
“I try to make sure we have food in the freezer I can stretch out and make healthy meals from. I will try and make several meals from a chicken.
“I know where to get the best prices for food and fresh produce. It’s a big help that I can be creative with my cooking.
“We have to be careful with how much gas and electricity we use, especially by the end of the month.
“Sometimes we just wear our hoodies and extra clothes but it gets windier up here and the cold gets in more.
- £5 could pay for a day’s’ food for a child so they don’t have to miss a meal
- £10 could buy a Christmas present for a child
- £20 could buy an educational toy
- £50 could buy a pack of educational games and books
- £100 could buy a bed for a child so they can get a good, safe night’s sleep
“As it’s Arwen’s birthday as well on Christmas Day I’ve been buying little presents here and there each month to spread the cost out.”
Just like her mum, Arwen is showing resourcefulness.
The little girl’s proudest achievement during the pandemic has been her own make-believe cafe in the family’s flat.
Despite a year like no other in her short life, she is still smiling.