Home-start: "We need the Executive to get to work to try to lessen the burden on families."

Friday 19 August 2022 10:16

HOME Start Newry, Mourne and Down is a local community network of trained volunteers and expert support helping families with young children through their challenging times.

I spoke with a spokesperson from the network on the cost of uniforms and what they believe needs to happen to support families.

"The families who are on low incomes or who rely on benefits, are really struggling to make end meet. Many families are budgeting on a day-to-day basis with limited finances for essentials such as sanitary wear and hygiene products. In fact, some parents are going without dinner just to insure their children have enough to eat.

“The cost-of-living situation has really affected some of the young families we support. Energy, food, and petrol prices at an all-time high and for our families with young children, at this time of year, families are worrying about the additional financial burden of school uniforms, PE gear, shoes, and bags.”

Home start work close with families and witness the day to day struggles these people face and believe a functioning Executive is required to "tackle these serious financial worries."

"We need a functioning Executive to tackle these serious financial worries of families, which are having a detrimental effect on parents’ mental health. There has been some help with the recent cost of living payments for those families on particular benefits but more needs to be done for those who are not on benefits but who are really struggling. We need the Executive to get to work to try to lessen the burden on families.

"This year more than ever, we have seen families unable to give treats to their children or go for days out in the summer holidays. Parents are so worried about uniforms costs and what the winter months are going to bring with a high percentage worrying about keeping food on the table and heating the children’s bedrooms."

Home start informed me that over the summer months they usually would see a reduction in the number of referrals to the scheme for support. Although this has not been the case for this year.

"Families are being referred, not only for practical support to help manage budgets, relieve poverty or gain access to essentials, the demand for support for parental mental health and stress is at an all-time high. The demand for home visiting direct support from our parenting support workers is huge as is the demand for befriending and emotional support given by our volunteers. We are making a lot of referrals to the local food banks, simply for families just to make ends meet and thank goodness for them. We worry what the demand on the food banks will be in Autumn and Winter.

Home start are urging for anyone who is struggling mentally or financially to reach out to them for support.

"It is natural that financial stress will have an impact on parents ‘mental health and in turn can have an impact on the children. There are many organisations in the local community to help but taking the first step can sometimes be the most difficult. It is important that anyone who is struggling should confide in someone about their worries and share them. It is also important to ensure some self-care, getting out for a walk, make social connections, get some proper sleep and visit the GP for professional advice if you need to. Home Start can help you with all of these things."

Home start offer a range of services for families in all situations and their personalised support to individual family needs is confidential.

"We offer personalised support for parents with children under five; Support is tailored to the individual needs of each family and is provided for as long as the family needs it. We provide tailored, personalised support to families, in their own home and in groups. We offer choices for parents and their children and opportunities for their voices to be heard and we offer consistent adult role models for parents and their children – other adults who care. "

Also, for families who might find themselves struggling practically or emotionally with their financial situation, Home- start offer a wide range of support services which can be found on their website at https://www.home-start.org.uk/home-start-newry-mourne. If you wish to contact them for any help you can contact them on 302 66139 (Newry) or 417 64120 (Kilkeel) or send them an email at info@homestartnewry.com or send a private message on Facebook. They can arrange transport to attend our services and all our services are free and cover all areas in the Newry & Mourne district.

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