Christmas can be a difficult time of year for children living in poverty and for older people living alone.
With Christmas fast approaching the streets and shops are bustling with people buying presents. However for people living in poverty, Christmas is the time of year when they are acutely aware of a lifestyle other people have that is simply unaffordable to them.
Newspapers, radio and television mean parents and children alike are acutely aware of the sort of life led by people with money. Many parents do not have the means to buy expensive toys and it puts a lot of pressure on them.
Children watching the ‘Late Late Toy Show’ catch a glimpse of extremely expensive toys and those from poorer backgrounds know there are children who will be given these items for Christmas. It is no wonder that children living in poverty can experience a sense of uneasiness and despair during the Christmas season.
Christmas can be a lonely time for elderly people living alone. In times past they used to live with their extended family. Now when their children leave the home, many old people are left living alone in the city. Many older people living in Dublin city centre cannot travel to their family on Christmas day as there is no public transport. Many also want to be in their own homes on this day.
A Traveller woman is living in a caravan on a building site with five children and a sixth will be back for Christmas. The site is without services and there is nowhere for the children to play.
Too many children in Dublin city are growing up in overcrowded surroundings and this has a detrimental effect on their development. Poor people are poor in every way, housing, schools and services. An emphasis on the family and children’s rights is needed.
A special interest is given to children from poor backgrounds and the elderly at Christmas time, but more needs to be done for them throughout the year and a long term inclusivity solution is needed.
This episode of 'Súil Thart' was broadcast on 16 December 1979.