Almost a third of Luton children live in poverty, according to family support charty Home-Start.
Spokeswoman Linda Johnson said studies showed that the town had become more deprived over the last five years, with families struggling to cope for a variety of reasons including illness or disability, mental ill health, bereavement and financial issues.
The charity has now launched the Luton Children & Families Appeal in the hope of raising £3,000 to build up its services.
Last year it assisted 51 Luton families, including 149 children, by providing emotional support, friendship and practical help. But it has become clear that this is just the tip of the iceberg,
Ms Johnson said: “We want Luton to be a place where children flourish and parents get the support they need.
“We don’t want to turn families away when they come to us for help.”
She added: “Just £15 enables us to support a family for a week and can make all the difference to the lives of children living in the area.”
> You can support the appeal by fundraising, sponsoring and donating. Visit www.home-startcentralbeds.org.uk/fundraising-in-luton/