Steph McGovern chokes up

Steph McGovern tears up on show as she reads heartbreaking letter from desperate mum worried about Christmas

"It's not about me, I'll stop," she told herself

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Steph McGovern choked back tears on her show as she read a heartbreaking letter from a desperate mum today (Thursday, December 10).

The TV presenter had to compose herself on a couple of occasions as she revealed the distressing details on Steph’s Packed Lunch.

“It’s not about me, I’ll stop,” she told herself as she told about how a single parent was worrying about Christmas.

The mum-of-three explained in her letter how she lost her job during the first lockdown.

Steph McGovern chokes up
Steph McGovern had to compose herself on her show (Credit: Channel 4)

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She also said she’d come to rely on food banks and charity – even if those helping her weren’t aware.

I cannot begin to explain how difficult life is financially.

In a sad moment, Steph read aloud how the mum had resorted to retrieving out-of-date food from the bins of family and friends.

“I cannot begin to explain how difficult life is financially,” the mum wrote.

“I always manage to provide food and heating for the children but most days I do not eat and sit in the dark and cold after they have gone to bed.”

Guests on Steph's Packed Lunch
The plight of those relying on food banks was highlighted on Steph’s Packed Lunch (Credit: Channel 4)

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She continued: “I am totally ashamed that I have fallen so far.”

Desperate mum asks for Christmas advice

Ultimately, the mum – who specified she did not want to be traced – asked for advice how to prepare a festive dinner and evening meal on a budget of £20.

However, she also noted she had no idea what might be coming from the food bank.

She went on to add her family have been making Christmas decorations from toilet rolls, tin foil and items from discount shops.

“I can’t begin to explain what a failure I feel and how I have let my children down,” the letter went on.

“I am an intelligent woman but without work I am nothing.”

An emotional Steph McGovern reacts

A visibly moved Steph stressed the letter’s writer was not a failure – and was glad she was not in debt.

She had tweeted the letter out to her followers last night and promised to address it on her Channel 4 show.

Steph also recommended the mum consult the Citizen’s Advice Bureau after show guest Alan Johnson suggested she may not be familiar with how she may be assisted by Universal Credit.

Steph’s solution

The host then revealed that chef Clodagh McKenna had worked out how to do Christmas dinner relatively inexpensively.

And impressively, Clodagh suggested that using a turkey leg – rather than a whole turkey – alongside sides like spiced red cabbage might be a solution to feed four people for about £10.50.

Clodagh said directly to the letter’s writer: “Thank you to her for being so brave.”

An affordable Christmas dinner
Christmas dinner for just £10.50 (Credit:

Viewers were incredibly touched by the letter, with many asking how they could donate to the letter’s writer.

“That letter was so emotional and powerful. Full credit to you and your team for making this a talking point,” tweeted one person watching at home.

“Such an emotional letter. This lady has not let her family down,” wrote another person.

And someone else added: “So many folk in the same boat. Quietly going under the radar while we watch all these happy, fabulous Christmas adverts. I hope the lady and her kids do okay.”

Steph’s Packed Lunch airs on Channel 4, weekdays, at 12.30pm.

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