Impact story of the cost of living – one Mum’s struggles

cost of living story photo

The challenges of learning at home in a cost of living crisis

We spoke to a Mum recently who first encountered Stripey Stork at a cost of living event run by a local family centre. There she was given two of our age-specific activity packs, made by our wonderful volunteer team, which are filled with a selection of games, stationery, crafts, self-care items and activities to keep young minds busy.

This Mum is a single parent to a primary-age son and a teenage daughter. Her daughter, who lives with ASD and anxiety, is currently learning at home while she waits for a suitable school place to come up. Her home-learning schedule involves a lot of drawing, colouring, mindfulness and self-regulation, to avoid overload.  Whilst they are at home together every day, facing increasing bills for heating and food, Mum supports her daughter with creative ways of managing worry that they’ve learned along the way. Despite their efforts, being away from friends and peers can be very isolating, so the young girl was delighted to find the activity pack we provided was full of many of the exact things she loves to do, which made her feel cared for, and understood.

“It was like it was made for me!,” she told us.

Her home tutor, who watched her unpack it, said the pack was ‘perfect’ and would really help support her learning.

A random act of kindness

Seeing what an impact this unexpected gift had on her daughter, this Mum reached out to us to let us know. She said that it was clear to her and to both of her children that the packs were made with love.

“Their eyes lit up. They’d never had something given to them where it was so clear, someone had really thought about what THEY need.”

For their Mum, it was also an unexpected lift, “Like a random act of kindness that day. It was unexpected, I didn’t know there was a service that gave out things like that. It made me feel like… Yes, this is going to really help me.”

Her younger son also enjoyed exploring his pack. He isn’t a fan of puzzles, his Mum said, so when he discovered one of those in the bag, he chose to pass that on to a neighbour who has been unwell and in and out of hospital recently. We loved hearing about his decision to ‘pay it forward’ with his own act of kindness.

The confidence to ask for help

As a result of this Mum reaching out, we have been able to give her more information about the full extent of the support available from Stripey Stork, and how to access it. She has been worrying about the rising cost of living, and how it is going to affect her children, so it’s a relief to know there are places she can turn for help with clothing and school supplies as the children grow.

“I used to be able to keep a little money aside for emergencies. That doesn’t happen now. The gas and electric keep going off, and everything costs more. It’s so hard to find enough money for what the kids need.”

It can be difficult to ask for help for your family, or to explain the extent of the challenges you are facing.

“It’s especially hard in Surrey,” this Mum told us, “because it’s thought of as quite an affluent area.”

This research on child poverty in Surrey shows that the impression of Surrey as an ‘affluent county’ is not the lived reality for many children and families. Our own work, and the stories we hear, confirm this, see our cost of living page for feedback from our referral partners and supported families.

We also know that with current cost of living rises many families who had previously managed financially, are now finding that ends no longer meet. It can be hard to know where to start to get help when you are not already receiving support from health or social care professionals.  See our resources pages for families and professionals which categorises and lists the different types of support available.

We’re glad to see that knowing more about Stripey Stork, and seeing the kind of high-quality, thoughtful and practical items that we can provide, has given this Mum the confidence to seek a further referral for other items that her family needs. We’re also grateful for all the many partners we work with who are out in the community letting families know that we are there for them.

Learning from our community

Not only has this Mum given us some welcome feedback on our service, but her daughter has also offered us her thoughts on the items we give out to teens, which is an area of our service we are putting a lot of energy into developing. We are especially keen to understand how best we can support teenagers struggling with isolation, poor mental health, and additional learning needs.

We’re grateful to have the opportunity to do this through feedback and input from families who are willing to give their time and share their experiences, and we look forward to reporting more on how this offer has changed as a result of input from this family, and others.

Do you have a family feedback story to share? Get in touch with us at info@stripeystork.org.uk.

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