United Kingdom

In the community center, parents help through the bill crisis

They, call it “mommy guilt”—the guilt you get from constantly having to tell your kids to turn off the lights, turn off the heating, and that, no, they can’t get treats.

Charlene Richardson, a mother of two, said she constantly watches her electricity and turns off appliances at the plugs. “We went back to survival of the fittest,” she said. “It makes you wonder: are we really going to see apocalyptic times where people who have electricity will move up in society?

Charlene was talking UKTN at South London’s Loughborough Community Center (LCC), providing low-income parents with meal support and childcare – and a chance to speak out about the harsh realities besieging them through the cost of living crisis. The charity is eligible to benefit from our On the Breadline Christmas campaign partnership with The Childhood Trust.

Mother of two Charlene Richardson

(Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd)

“The most important thing to me is how much food costs,” said mother-of-two Kenosha Smith. “My shopping bill goes up every month. Food has never been something I had to worry about before, but now it’s the big concern for me.”

LCC director Candice James BEM said the group had weathered Covid but had never experienced anything like the current crisis.

Candice James, Director of the Loughborough Community Centre

(Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd)

“Everything is exhausted,” she said. “This hardship seems to have no end. There is nothing to look forward to in the near future that will help these families. Part of our role is to give families hope that things will get better, but we don’t see where the support will come from. I see few solutions.”

Ms James said the difficulty of the cost-of-living crisis has extended to her staff who are also struggling, and some need the services of the LCC to make ends meet. “My staff are not paid enough to survive rising prices,” she said. “Even giving a pay rise hardly makes any difference.”

In the borough of Lambeth, 39 per cent of children live in child poverty in 2020/21 – more than the London average. Meanwhile, more than one in four adults in Lambeth live in poverty, and the borough is one of the 20 poorest areas in the UK.

The pain of the crisis is not limited to single-parent or welfare recipient families – couples are also feeling the pressure. Husband and wife Raymond and Tola Scott, who have two children aged 8 and 10, say they have been forced to leave London in a bid to ease the pressure of rising costs.

Raymond Scott at Loughborough Community Centre

(Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd)

“It happens around food — my kids get upset and I get frustrated,” said Tola, a child support worker. “I have to raise my voice and it shouldn’t be like that. They are children, they should enjoy food. They should have everything they need.”

The families we spoke to said government assistance barely made a dent in the skyrocketing bills, but there was consensus that LCC helped them with their emotional and physical needs while connecting them to a community of people who could help and support each other. They said that any additional support from our fund was much needed.

Tola Scott downtown in Brixton

(Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd)

Ms James said: “We are back on the front lines. It’s easy to forget that community groups are those anchorages that connect the most vulnerable to services and what they need. If we want children to grow up and thrive, we also need to work with their families.”

( Independent)

Our Christmas call in a nutshell

Our Cost of Living Christmas appeal, On the Breadline, has partnered with Comic Relief and The Childhood Trust, a charity that helps children living in poverty in London.

Donations made under our partnership with The Childhood Trust will be distributed in grants to organizations helping children in poverty in London. Donations made under our partnership with Comic Relief go to organizations across the UK (including London) helping people of all ages living in poverty meet the cost of living.

how you can help

Donate here to help children affected by the cost of living crisis living in London.

Donate here to help children and communities affected by the cost of living crisis, wherever they live in the UK.