This Christmas will be tough for many people. For families on a low income, with a disabled or seriously ill child, it can be even more difficult, as they are faced with rising costs, reduced income and extra financial pressures.

What we know

Research we’ve released today for our Christmas campaign#RealCosts shows that 8 in 10 families raising disabled children are struggling to afford Christmas presents this year, and two thirds of families say toys for their disabled children cost more than toys for non-disabled children.

Forty four per cent of parents say that special sensory toys are crucial to their disabled children’s lives, but just one in ten can afford them. Sensory toys are crucial for disabled children as they can help a child communicate with their parents; play with their siblings, and provide a calm, quiet and safe place for a disabled child to regulate their emotions.

It’s already around three times more expensive to raise a disabled child compared with non-disabled children, which means for some families, sensory toys are out of reach. Our families tell us they’re spending less on heating, and cutting back on food, just so they can afford sensory toys.

We need you

This Christmas we’re asking for your help so that Family Fund can support even more families in urgent need.

Even a small donation makes a big difference to families like Archie’s. Archie is five years old. He lives in Exeter with his mum Becci, dad Lee, three year old sister Chiara and 20 month old brother Sebastian. All three children have additional needs.

Archie’s mum Becci tells us:  “When it gets to the week before payday we’ve had to face the reality of turning things down or off so that we can make things last. We turn the boiler down or off to try and save on that.”

“I remember walking in town looking in all of the toy shop windows thinking, I’m struggling to put food on the table. It’s upsetting and almost embarrassing to admit that I can’t buy Christmas presents for my kids.”

“Making Christmas special, with very little money to spend, is difficult. I’ve been in tears the last few Christmases…borrowing money so that we could eat.”

Donate to change lives

We provided a grant for equipment which has helped Archie, Chiara and Sebastian fulfil their sensory needs. The grant helped Becci access spinning toys, fibre optic lights and materials for a dark den.

Becci tells us: “My children don’t really play with normal toys at all, and the sensory ones are more expensive. They really help all of the children. They help Archie be more active and get his energy out…the dark den we’re making is more suited for Chiara to be a calm space, which Sebastian seems to like too. So sensory equipment is important for all of our children, but in very different ways.”

Please visit www.familyfund.org.uk/donate/ to make a donation this Christmas, so that we can support even more families in urgent need.

You can get involved and follow our winter campaign on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, using #RealCosts.