One Mum’s unthinkable choice

Unthinkable choice story web

“Sometimes we find ourselves sitting in the car at 6pm, hungry and cold, waiting to hear where we’re being moved to. There’s no stability or routine for the children. At a time when they should be winding down for bed, we’re waiting on news of where that bed will be.” – Mandy* (Mum)

Referral partners like Beth – Engagement Support Officer at First Community Health and Care – are seeing first-hand the desperate situation more families are finding themselves in, accentuated by the cost-of-living crisis.

Mandy recently found herself having to make an unthinkable choice for a Mum; to buy nappies or food for her children.

Only last year they were living relatively comfortably; her husband was working and they could afford the essentials with a little leftover to save.

Things were about to tragically take a turn for the worse. Her husband had been battling with poor mental health and sadly took his own life. Overnight Mandy was a grieving widow with two children, ages four and two.

It was impossible for Mandy to keep up the payments on their private rental, and the family became homeless. The council stepped in to provide emergency accommodation which consisted of a budget hotel for the first four months. Since then they’ve been moved between hotels in two different counties; a consequence of the councils disagreeing who should take responsibility for housing them.

At first they had a little money to fall back on but that soon went in the current financial climate, with most of it being spent on buying ‘food to go’. Having no cooking facilities in the hotel room means she can’t cook a nutritious and warm meal, so they rely on expensive, convenience food. Although they have been referred to foodbanks, cooking facilities are often needed for the items they receive. On top of everything else, Mandy understandably worries for the health of her growing children.

Recently she called her support worker, Beth, in tears because she had no money left to buy nappies. Her Universal Credit wasn’t due for a few days and she’d already borrowed from friends so this wasn’t an option. Mandy really had nowhere else to turn.

Beth quickly got in her car and headed to the Stripey Stork warehouse to pick up some emergency packs of nappies to see them through for the next couple of weeks. Beth is a regular referrer so knows the wide range of items we’re able to provide to support families like Mandy’s when they need it most.

Beth told us how relieved and appreciative Mandy was when she dropped them off the very same morning:

“It had been a real low point for Mandy, so to find out there’s organisations out there like Stripey Stork that will prop her up has given her hope”.

Hope because she is not alone. Hope that her situation will change. Hope for a better future for her family.

This is the harsh reality that many families are now finding themselves in. Being evicted because their rent and bills become unaffordable during these financially difficult times. Families living with constant uncertainty and having to make unthinkable choices.

Stripey Stork is a lifeline for these families who have nowhere else to turn, as Beth told us:

“Being able to support them with basic items such as nappies, wipes and clothing goes a really long way. They are living in desperation and with such uncertainty, and the need in our community is only getting worse.”

If this story has struck a chord and you want to help families like Mandy’s, here’s how:

If you’re worried about the cost-of-living crisis and need some extra support, take a look at our Support for Families resource area on our website.

*Name changed to protect the privacy of the individual.

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