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Homeless charity Shelter is debuting its Christmas ad, which has been devised to illustrate the reality of nearly 120,000 homeless children this festive period.

Created by Don’t Panic, “Brave face” goes live this week on TV and across Shelter’s social media channels, taking audiences through a day spent with a kid called Jayden. The boy practises his smile in the mirror, a coping mechanism he uses when he receives a bad maths grade, when there’s no dessert left in the dining hall or when he lets a goal in while playing football.

The action shifts to show Jayden and his mum walking down the noisy corridor of a grim block of flats – their temporary accomodation. Walking into a small room and closing the door, she kneels down and tells him: “This is where we’re spending Christmas, love.”

For one last time, Jayden puts on his “Brave face” for his mum.

Produced in collaboration with Academy and directed by Si & Ad, the ad was written by Don’t Panic’s creative partner Rick Dodds.

Dodds said: “Honesty is also so incredibly important with this type of work. We didn’t want to exaggerate or inflate a single element of [Jayden’s] reality. We worked closely with Shelter to ensure that every detail of the temporary accommodation was an accurate representation of where a young lad like Jayden could be spending Christmas. From the corridor and the stressed neighbours, to the sole bed that child and parent would have to share. 

“Every detail was fact checked to ensure it was as real a depiction as possible. Having spent an afternoon shooting in this location, I can honestly say how heartbreaking and devastating it is that anyone, especially a child, will be spending a Christmas in such a place.” 

The ad follows on from last year’s Christmas campaign, “The drive”, also created by Don’t Panic, which featured a mother and daughter set to spend Christmas Day in their car.

Claire Whitney, head of supporter acquisition at Shelter, said: “With many families hit hard by the cost of living crisis, the country is experiencing a housing emergency with homelessness on the rise.

“Yet, despite this, day after day we see the resilience of parents, teenagers and young children, and this is what we’re depicting in this film. Our young boy is a true representation of the thousands of people we support living in temporary accommodation, and we hope the public are inspired to donate this Christmas to help us carry on our vital work with families to find their long-term homes.”

 

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