A YORK charity has set up an urgent donation line to support families raising disabled children who are struggling to afford Christmas presents.

Family Fund carried out a poll of more than 975 parents which found that nearly eight in ten families are worried they won’t be able to afford gifts for their disabled or seriously-ill children this year.

Forty-four per cent of parents polled said that special sensory toys, invaluable to children who have autism or learning disabilities, were what their children wanted most. However, just one in ten parents will be able to afford them.

Family Fund, which is based at Monks Cross, is the UK’s largest national charity that supports disabled or seriously-ill children whose families are living on lower incomes.

It granted 41 sensory toys and items to York families on lower incomes between April 2020 and March 31, 2021.

Its research found that two thirds of families say the cost of toys is higher for disabled children compared with those without disabilities.

One in ten families said the most expensive play item they had bought was a sensory toy and, of these families, half said they had to spend more than £200 on the toy of choice.

For one in 10, this toy cost more than £500.

Four in five families say they find buying presents for their disabled children stressful.

Families polled said they were making sacrifices in the run up to Christmas to save, such as going without presents themselves, avoiding social events and cutting back on essentials.

Half said they were spending less on weekly groceries as well as cutting down on central heating while 12 per cent were working longer hours.

As well as making cut backs, almost half of families told the charity they would need to borrow money to meet the cost of Christmas - from friends and family, using credit cards or overdrafts. Three in five families who need to borrow, think this will be in excess of £300.

Chief executive of Family Fund, Cheryl Ward, said: “This research is incredibly worrying, with so many families raising disabled children facing a struggle to afford the toys that their children need, due to the extra costs of the ‘disability price tag.’

“Sensory toys, which have light and texture features, are stimulating and appealing for disabled children, but they’re significantly more costly than other toys.

“It’s already around three times more expensive to raise a disabled child, compared with other children, so we’re really concerned that families on low incomes, whose children have complex needs, may miss out.”

This Christmas Family Fund is asking people to support families in urgent need, by texting FAMILYFUND 5 to 70460 to donate.