Our generous readers have been digging deep and donating to HELLO!'s Home School Appeal to help the UK's most vulnerable families.
We have already raised thousands of pounds for the charity School-Home Support (registered charity in England and Wales No. 1084696), which works with families living in poverty and struggling to cope during the pandemic, and last week the charity's patron Lady Frederick Windsor renewed her call, appearing on ITV's Lorraine show and Sky News Breakfast to talk about the campaign.
Meanwhile our roll-call of celebrity supporters continues, with singer Pixie Lott, comedian Eddie Izzard, TV presenter Saira Khan and fashion designer Storm Keating spreading the word to fans over social media, joining the likes of Sarah, Duchess of York, Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman and chef Jamie Oliver.
WATCH: Sarah, Duchess of York backs appeal to help Britain's most vulnerable families
School-Home Support helps families with issues ranging from housing and benefit problems to mental health issues and domestic abuse, employing a network of trained practitioners to carry out doorstep visits during lockdown. Demand for their services has quadrupled during the Covid-19 crisis as parents lose their jobs, families are stuck in overcrowded homes and students susceptible to abuse lose their safe haven of school.
More practitioners are urgently needed to help keep children safe and improve their home lives so they can concentrate on their learning.
Lady Frederick Windsor has spoken of a "silent pandemic" of poverty, malnourishment and abuse sweeping the nation
Speaking on ITV last week, Lady Frederick, who is known professionally as actress Sophie Winkleman, told Lorraine Kelly a "silent pandemic" of poverty, malnourishment and abuse was sweeping the nation, with more than five million children suffering because their parents are "beyond breaking point".
She added: "School-Home Support helps the child by helping the family and that's what makes them unique. All babies are born the same and some get the roll of a six and some get one or less and although this is part of life, I don't think we can call ourselves a civilised society unless we fight for the very unfortunate children, of which there are now millions because of this pandemic."
A donation of £10 to our appeal pays for a practitioner to make a doorstep visit, £56 covers a month's electricity to keep a child warm and £220 funds a practitioner's phone for the year. Meanwhile, £818 is the cost of keeping one child fully supported for the year to ensure they are accessing education and get the best start in life.
Sophie is patron of charity School-Home Support
Shalina and her children – one of whom suffers from a complex, life-threatening condition and needs an oxygen cylinder to breathe – live in a two-bedroom, high-rise flat in London. When her abusive husband left her in debt and rent arrears more than a year ago, Shalina found it difficult to access help as English is not her first language.
Her School-Home Support practitioner Kim helped her complete forms for support, including disability living allowance and free school meals, and arranged a grant through the charity to buy food and a fridge. She also contacted the local housing department, who awarded a benefit back-payment to cover Shalina's rent arrears and has now prioritised the family to be rehoused with enough space for medics to provide 24-hour care for her child.
"By empowering Shalina, she has begun to bring about and sustain positive change for her family," Kim says. "Her mindset is more positive, despite the additional challenges the family face due to the Covid-19 pandemic. "Although the intervention continues, it's great to see what an impact this has had on her and her children so far," she adds.