“Finally, we won’t miss out on the magic of Christmas”: Nathan’s story

Wednesday 06 December 2023
Illustration of Nathan looking happy

Last year, Action for Children helped give Nathan the Christmas all children deserve.

The following is a real story about a family supported by Action for Children services. Names and images have been anonymised.

Christmas is a tough time for 10-year-old Nathan and his Grandmother, Paula. It was during Christmas when his mum passed away after being unwell. Nathan was just a baby when this happened, but as Paula shared: “It’s a really hard time for us both. I try to shield Nathan from the sadness.”

I was so worried that Nathan wouldn’t have any presents to open on Christmas morning.


Nathan has been living with Paula ever since, but it hasn’t been easy. The two often live on very little, and Paula struggled financially, especially during Christmas. This meant Nathan missed out on enjoying the Christmas that every child deserves. It was heartbreaking for Paula to see.

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How Action for Children began to support Nathan and Paula

Paula spoke about how Nathan had struggled with his behaviour for several years. “His behaviour has always been questionable, especially his mood and how he can react to certain situations,” Paula said.

By the time they were referred to Action for Children for additional support, Nathan’s behaviour had worsened. They were desperate for help.

Action for Children were great from the get-go. Straight away they arranged for Nathan to be put in touch with a mentor, Darren.

Paula, Nathan's Grandmother

Though the mentoring has ended, Paula really sees the difference it’s made. “[Nathan’s] learned that not everybody in life is going to let him down. The support from Darren and Action for Children has helped move things forward for all of us.”

Nathan would really enjoy his time with Darren – he knew he could contact him whenever he needed it.

Struggling to make ends meet

Alongside accessing a mentor, Paula and Nathan received financial support from Action for Children.

At 66, Paula is retired. She relies on her pension and the benefits she gets for Nathan to support them both. After their bills were paid, there was never much left for anything extra. Paula tried her best to manage with what she had. The two got by on the bare necessities – occasionally relying on family to help out.

Sometimes I have to tell Nathan that I can’t afford something or explain why he can’t have all the things he wants. It can be difficult, but he understands.

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Money worries stripped Christmas of its magic

As the festive season rolled around each year, Christmas just added to their financial worries. Not having enough was tough. But not having enough at Christmas was worse. The extra food, treats and Christmas presents were expenses that exceeded what Paula could afford.

Many of Nathan’s memories of Christmas were not the magical one’s children deserve. That was until they received a special Christmas gift from Action for Children.

Illustration of Nathan, a happy little boy in a living room filled with presents and christmas decor

His little face just lit up


A Christmas to remember

“Last Christmas, Action for Children put together a hamper for Nathan with lots of toys and goodies. We were both so thrilled with it,” Paula said. “But anything that makes Nathan happy makes me happy.

“They’ve also helped me with getting a school uniform for Nathan which has really made a difference to us.”

Paula can remember how over the moon Nathan was when they received the hamper: “His little face just lit up.”

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Christmas is only going to be tougher this year

We were able to be there for Paula and Nathan thanks to the generosity of our Secret Santas.

As Christmas approaches, Paula is again worried about the challenges this time of year brings. And so are many other families across the UK.

The cost-of-living crisis is hurting too many children – leaving them without the essentials every child should have. No cooked meals, winter clothes, or a warm home.

4.2 million children now live in poverty in the UK. That’s 600,000 more than in 2012. And 29% of all children.

It’s shocking. But donations from people like you could help us give children across the UK the Christmas they deserve. You could help put the magic back into Christmas for a vulnerable child.

Be a Secret Santa

Many children will wake up on Christmas to no stockings. No presents. No festive food. Your gift could change this.

Choose a gift