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Homelessness

A mother comforts her young son as they arrive on Lesvos. Many refugee mothers have lost their children or other family members on their journey

As I was eating lunch with my three-year-old over the weekend, I heard a radio interview with Jamal, who had lost 13 members of his family as they fled the conflict in Syria. They had drowned trying to reach the safety of Europe. My son, oblivious to the tragedy unfolding on air, chatted happily to me as he ate his sandwiches, excited about visiting his granny in the afternoon. As a child growing up in the UK with friends and family within walking distance of his home, his life is full of certainty and security.

Krishla's family home was reduced to rubble in the earthquakes in Nepal in April 2015. Krishla and her sister were playing with their cousin nearby when the earthquake struck. Their cousin was killed.

Helen Pattinson visited Nepal in May 2015 in the aftermath of two earthquakes that killed thousands of people and left millions homeless. She found scenes of utter devastation; families torn apart, living in tents, children too frightened to sleep. Since then ActionAid has been working with Nepalese communities to rebuild homes and provide shelter to the most vulnerable. Six months after her visit in May, Helen went back to see how the families of Nepal were faring as the bitter winter sets in.

Finlay holds up his letter to Santa.

Writing a letter to Santa is one of the most exciting parts of Christmas for any child. But this year, rather than writing a long list of toys and sweets, one five-year-old decided to write something rather different.... 

Two-year-old girl Reihaneh at ActionAid's mother and baby centre in Lesvos, where we're helping homeless refugees

She was the TV award-winning villain we loved to hate as Kirsty in Coronation Street, wowed us with her nimble moves on Strictly Come Dancing, and she's blowing our socks off as the physically and mentally tough Bella in Jekyll and Hyde.We’re big fans of the way Natalie Gumede has made a name for herself playing strong, complex female characters on our TV screens. Now we love Natalie even more, because she’s supporting our Christmas appeal to help protect homeless children all over the world. In this exclusive interview Natalie tells us about her own childhood hopes and dreams, reveals some pet (social media) hates and worries, drops some hints about her future plans and talks movingly about the human rights crisis that’s unfolding on Europe’s shores.

Two-year-old Reihaneh and her mum in ActionAid's mother and baby centre, Lesvos

Can you imagine breastfeeding on a pile of rubbish, surrounded by hundreds of men you’ve never met? Or trying to keep your baby clean, when you only have dirty nappies and no clean water? These are experiences faced daily by refugee mothers arriving on the Greek island of Lesvos, where ActionAid is running special mother and baby centres.