Families facing financial crisis
Many families in this country will at some time find themselves facing a ‘financial crisis’ point – a financial problem which puts the immediate health and well-being of family members at risk. Examples include running out of money for food or for fuel during a period of cold weather, or a key household item such as a fridge or boiler breaking down. If these immediate crises are not rectified quickly, then the impact
could be severe, even in the short term. In some cases, crises may be a one-off caused by an event which would have been impossible to predict, such as the sudden onset of a disability or benefit income
going unpaid due to an administrative error.
However, in other cases a crisis may be predictable and/or repeated, as a result of a chronic vulnerability like ongoing ill-health or a regular shortfall in income compared to outgoings. While crisis support may be effective in delaying the impacts of the problem, additional support may be needed to address the underlying difficulties that led to the crisis point.
The impact on families with children
Alongside the immediate financial strain and practical struggles of finding and applying for support during a crisis, our in-depth interviews highlighted the common emotional impacts on families with children. One was stigma. Walking into a food bank, or applying for support to buy basic essentials for children like beds, were not things parents wanted to be regularly reminded about.
Our other research has shown that stigma associated with not being able to afford essentials can also affect children themselves. For example, one child told our Children’s Commission on Poverty.
‘If your shirt, like mine, has got tags with a different name…they automatically know that it’s like handed down from someone else. And like you notice if someone’s sleeves are too small or their top rides up or they’ve got trousers that are too short for them and if they’ve got really tattered shoes. It’s really noticeable…
SOURCE: Iain Porter. “Nowhere to Turn: Strengthening the Safety Net for Children and Families Facing Crisis.” The Children’s Society, 22 March 2019.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia