The biggest mistake we can make is assuming that an improving economy lifts all boats – unfortunately this is not the case. Behind the economists’ upbeat bar charts, graphs and statistics lie cases of poverty and deprivation that often result in poor nutrition, family stress, social exclusion and worse.

It is usually children who suffer the brunt of poverty by being more likely to suffer more frequent and severe health problems than children who grow up under better financial circumstances. They are also likely to miss school more often because of illness.

Often there is a notion that poverty and deprivation relate entirely to unemployment but such is not the case – there are many people working in low-paid employment, not earning enough to cover the basic cost of living for themselves and their families. Others are dependent on social welfare payments because they are elderly, unemployed, a lone parent or have a disability or long-term illness.

PA witnessed a substantial increase in giving during 2013 and much of this giving goes to people who could be termed ‘The New Poor’ – people who have worked hard and are bringing up families but through illness or unemployment find themselves in unexpected financial difficulty. From relative comfort, they can often find it challenging to provide even the most basic necessities for their families.

The call on Protestant Aid is as acute as ever, with real need raising its head in every corner of our society. As a result, we desperately need your continued support and are more than grateful for the generosity you have shown in previous years.