GRASS Cliftonville gains Comic Relief grant to help struggling families this Christmas

Christmas joy with GRASS Cliftonville Photo Lana Vanzetta

Shocking figures showing more than 30% of children across Cliftonville West are living in poverty have prompted a community led residents’ scheme to team up with Comic Relief to help struggling families this Christmas.

GRASS Cliftonville has received a grant from Comic Relief to deliver £50 gift vouchers to help families on the breadline pay for Christmas presents for their little ones.

Over the past 17 years, GRASS Cliftonville has held an annual free community Christmas party for the residents of Cliftonville West, with free food and the opportunity to meet Santa Claus. Last year the magical event was held in the Margate Caves; however due to Covid restrictions GRASS Cliftonville is sadly unable to deliver this event in 2020.

Photo Lana Vanzetta

Stephen Darrer, GRASS Cliftonville Secretary, said: “As we are unable to hold our annual Children’s Christmas party, we really wanted to do something to help local families. There are so many families struggling financially at this time of the year and the priorities are keeping the house warm and food on the table.

“When you are struggling financially Christmas presents can fall far down that list of priorities and GRASS Cliftonville want to help with our Christmas gift vouchers, this is a fantastic opportunity to bring our communities together and show those going through a tough time that people where they live care. We at GRASS want to ensure all children have smiles on their faces on Christmas Day.”

The GRASS Christmas Voucher Scheme will begin accepting application from November 16. Applications for a Christmas voucher can be made at from this date.

Applicants must be permanent residents in Cliftonville West.


  1. I too am shocked to learn that over half the children in Cliftonville are living in poverty.

    The figure has increased from one third only a fortnight ago.

    What criteria are being used to define poverty this week ?.

    • I think the group maybe combined relative and absolute low income figures but you are right, I have changed it to the percentage reflected for absolute low income published by KCC

  2. The wonders of selective statistics, given the definition of poverty these days is a percentage of mean incomes go to a low income area and obviously you are going to get higher levels. However is there any adjustment for the fact that housing costs in cliftonville west are some of the lowest in thanet ( even the south east if you want to use statistics in the same manner), so perhaps a comparable statistic of housing costs in cliftonville west would be a good counterpoint.

    The families that truly do struggle are those that try to make their own way in life and refuse to access the benefit system, for many in. The area this is just anout an impossibility the system has morphed into one in which benefits are a way of life and the minimum wage forces people to use the system.

    Those trying to escape the system can do so , but as many have zero hour contract work it takes only very small reductions in income to make things financially untenable.

    Finally (yes marva you’ll accuse me of tabloid stereotypes) the amount of cash in hand work has declined by a huge amount and this was what many families relied on and what lay behind the £20 a week covid top up along with the uplift of LHA to the 30th percentile. Though this last measure is self defeating as it only leads to the less scrupulous landlords increasing their rents to keep receiving the tenants “top ups” . Where as on rightmove a 30th percentil 2 bed property was 650 a month in january its now jumped to 750. Which suggests there is still strong demand in thanet for rented property.

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