Strictly's Kym Marsh recalls her financial struggles as a young mum as she launches HELLO!'s Christmas appeal

Life in these uncertain times, with the cost-of-living crisis weighing heavy on the nation, has left so many families facing financial difficulty this winter. It's a situation that Kym Marsh just cannot ignore - because it hits close to home for the Strictly star.

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Kym's life now may seem like an endless stream of glam outings and red-carpet appearances, but she remembers all too well the stress and worry of trying to make ends meet, as a young mum to two children born close together in her pre-showbusiness days.

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That's why the 46-year-old star has joined forces with HELLO! to encourage readers across the country to help families in need this winter.

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READ: 20 easiest ways to save money at home each month when you're on a tight budget

"I wanted to get involved with this campaign because when I was a young mum I struggled with money worries," she told HELLO!

Kym Marsh in a promo shot for Strictly COme Dancing
Kym Marsh in a promo shot for Strictly COme Dancing

Kym Marsh, who is taking part in Strictly, has united with HELLO! to launch the Christmas Appeal

Opening up about her children's first years, she added: "I had my first child, David, when I was 18 and my second, Emilie, when I was 21.

HOW TO DONATE

"During those early childhood years there were times when being able to heat the home and put food on the table was a worry. We had a very tight budget and had to make tough choices."

She continued: "I was lucky enough to have my children's father and a big family network to help and support me, but I know that isn't the case for so many people."

kym-marsh-daughter-son
kym-marsh-daughter-son

The actress struggled financially when she was a young mother, aged 19

So many families that were just getting by are now in need of urgent help, with many turning to charities such as Little Village, which operates "baby banks" to provide clothes, toys, and equipment for babies and young children.

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Little Village, a London-based charity supported by the Princess of Wales, is expected to support over 7,000 families this year, their busiest year yet and they are in desperate need of pre-loved donations, as well as money to cover essentials for new parents and newborn babies.

DONATE TO LITTLE VILLAGE

Little Village recently carried out a survey of baby banks across the UK and results showed that children are wearing ill-fitting shoes or clothes, families are unable to afford basic hygiene products and that many are being forced to ration nappies. Children are also going hungry and facing a cold winter as families are unable to heat their homes or pay their bills.

kym-marsh-children
kym-marsh-children

Kym welcomed her first child, son David, aged 19, and daughter Emilie, when she was 21 years old

"As a mum it breaks my heart. To think there are people out there who aren't able to buy nappies for their children or to give them a safe place to sleep each night is awful," Kym tells HELLO!

"If you are able to help in any way, please do. Donating clothes or toys that your own children have outgrown can make such a massive difference to others. Also, being able to help others is such a rewarding feeling."

Sophie Livingstone MBE, Little Village's CEO, spoke to HELLO! spoke about why HELLO!'s campaign is so important.

"We're absolutely delighted to be working with Hello! on this special Christmas appeal. It is wonderful that HELLO! are helping us to shine a light on the work of baby banks and raising awareness of some of the impossible circumstances families in poverty are living in across the country.

sophie-livingstone-and-family
sophie-livingstone-and-family

Sophie Livingstone, CEO of charity Little Village, volunteering alongside her family

"Little Village runs a network of baby banks across London, providing essential items including clothing, toiletries, nappies, cots and prams for families with babies and children under five who are going through tough times. As the cost-of-living crisis deepens, demand for our service keeps growing and more families need our help in providing these essentials.

"Each week we hear heartbreaking stories of families taking extreme measures to survive. This includes mums forced to ration their babies' nappies; others having to water down formula to make it last longer and babies sleeping on the floor because the family can't afford a cot.

Kate Middleton visiting Little Village charity
Kate Middleton visiting Little Village charity

The Princess of Wales visited Little Village's hub in Brent in June this year

"It's easy to feel helpless in the face of such sadness, but there are lots of ways that you can make a massive difference by helping your local baby bank. Most baby banks are crying out for financial donations to help them keep their doors open this winter. They will also need excellent quality, pre-loved children's clothing and equipment – especially bigger items like buggies, cots and Moses baskets. Another way to help is to give your time by signing up as a volunteer."

Sending out a message of hope to those who are struggling, Kym says from the heart: "Keep going and please, please ask for help. They say it takes a village to raise a child and I know that’s true."

How can you help?

You can make a difference by donating much needed funds, donating excellent quality, pre-loved children's clothing and equipment – especially bigger items like buggies, cots and Moses baskets, or signing up to volunteer. Find out how, here.

You can POST items to: Little Village Hounslow (formerly Debenhams), 1st Floor, Unit 27, Treaty Shopping Centre, High Street, TW3 1ES.

If you’re outside London, you can find a map of baby banks across the country at: littlevillagehq.org/uk-baby-banks

Need help?

Find out more about how to get referred to Little Village here: littlevillagehq.org/get-help/