Worries about the cost of summer are widespread and, thanks to the cost of living crisis, having a job is not necessarily a protection against hardship. Here working single parent Phillipa* explains how she manages to provide for herself and her son, and how Family Action’s FOOD Clubs are a vital part of the puzzle.
I first heard about FOOD clubs from my health visitor just after I had my baby during COVID.
I found it quite hard going at first due to my sense of pride as I didn’t know anything about FOOD clubs, and I thought they were the same as food banks.
I’m in my 40s with a professional job, but it’s just me on my own with my son and money’s very tight at the moment.
I’ve got so little in the bank; I can’t even afford petrol for the car and it’s a real struggle. I could break into tears thinking about it.
When I picked up the courage to go, however, I was greeted with so much warmth and kindness.
In fact, the ladies that work there are people that I rely on now… They’ve become friends.
They’re also really professional and have emailed me about other services that might be able to help me.
I’ve enjoyed coming to groups at the service where I can meet other mums, cook together and get ideas, and It’s nice that when they run something children are welcome at too.
Sometimes when you’re working you’re juggling so much – like looking after the children and housework – that you forget how to do proper cooking and try different things. It was refreshing and it was nice to be jollied along to make better food choices.
I wouldn’t normally go to things like that as, although I can look quite confident and together, I’m not really.
Because it was such a welcoming environment, however, I would definitely go to another group when they run it.
I always feel that visiting the club is like Christmas.
You never quite know what you’re going to get and, even though I wouldn’t choose some of the foods, there’s been times when I’d been impressed by how fancy the things I’ve been given are. For Easter and Christmas time they do brunches, and they offer things like muffins.
I wouldn’t buy those normally as we’re often on a budget, but they’re like little treats.
Despite the talk of Christmas, however, I love the summer and the warmer weather as we live close to the sea so we can do lots of activities like visiting the beach or taking a pop-up tent to the woods.
We’re also fortunate to live close to services like libraries, toddler groups and churches.
I try to be upbeat, see the positives, and not think about the fact that we don’t have the money for activities like swimming.
It’s funny, my first thought when I heard about the club was “why should I do that?” but the reality is I need it and I’m thankful it exists.
You never feel like you’re being judged, and you don’t feel like they’re looking down their nose at you.
Find out more about how we’re helping families like Phillipa’s to #MakeHappyMemories this summer.
*Name changed at the request of the interviewee