By Ciaran Lockhart
A new children’s book about a family who lose their home at Christmas has made its way onto the Irish top ten children’s book list.
And a Derry charity says the theme is an all too familiar one.
‘How will Santa Find Us?’ tells the story of a little girl and her younger brother who lose their home in the week before Christmas. In a desperate attempt to find somewhere to stay, the family move from pillar to post. Facing the harsh reality of their circumstances, they are left with little choice but to distract the children, the only way they can; using their imaginations. Pretending to be ghosts in a hotel or imagining being on safari whilst having to stay in their car. All the while, the children are wondering, how will Santa find them?
How Will Santa Find Us is written by Irish creative directors and writers Shane O’Brien and Stephen Rogers. Each page of the book is illustrated by various, award-winning, Irish illustrators, given a page each to both showcase their individual talent, and bring the children’s imaginations to life.
All proceeds from the sale of the book, go to Focus Ireland, an Irish charity working to challenge homelessness in Ireland.
It says the number of homeless people has climbed to over 10,000 for the first time this year, including 3,800 homeless children. The charity has also suggested that “The number of homeless families has increased by 354% since September 2014. More than one in three people in emergency accommodation is a child.”
One local group all too familiar with the pressures placed on families is Foyle Women’s Aid.
The shelter provides temporary accommodation for women and their children suffering mental, physical, sexual or financial abuse within the home.
Director Marie Brown said the services Foyle Women’s Aid provide are in demand all year round with no let up at any time.
“Currently the shelter is awaiting the construction of nine extra accommodation units to be built in the New Year. It is expected that these new units will be used immediately, such is the demand for emergency shelter.
“We are now seeing children born into homelessness. “
She added that with families under increasing pressure, the shelter at will help in any way it can, by providing home heating fuel or if even a Christmas dinner for a family in crisis.
How Will Santa Find Us? launched at the beginning of November. It is available in bookstores across the country for €16.99 or on Amazon for £11.34 with all proceeds going to Focus Ireland.