The cost of living crisis is hitting Lauren's family hard. Her husband Will, who is in the army, can't afford fuel to get home. Here, Lauren shares their story. 

For Lauren Forward’s family, the cost of living crisis has been devastating. Lauren’s husband, Will, works away from home all week at an army base. Now, with the rising costs of living, they can no longer afford for him to come home at weekends, reducing the time they spend together to once a month.

Lauren explains: “With the rising costs of petrol our monthly spend has gone up to £300. The only way we could reduce this was by restricting the number of weekends I picked up Will from his army base. But the cost of this saving to our family is huge".

"My husband is a lance corporal in the armed forces. My daughter Layla, 3, and I look forward to seeing him and spending some family time together. But, with the cost increases, he can no longer afford to come home as much".

Life feels like such a struggle

"He’s been home once in the last two months. We miss him dearly and I feel like I’m a single mum. The stress it is causing us is huge. I honestly don’t know what to do. Life feels such a struggle at the moment, and that’s just to provide the basics".

We’re now coming to the last two weeks of the month and we’ve no money left. I’ve counted out Layla’s nappies and I’m hoping we have enough to see us through until I can get some more.

My husband has to buy his own food at the base, so we have two lots of food shopping to get, putting further pressure on our income. I feel for him. He works hard to provide for us, but then goes without himself so that we can get by.”

Home-Start volunteer is a breath of fresh air

Lauren’s daughter Layla has additional needs and is struggling not seeing her dad so much. The meltdowns left Lauren not wanting to leave the house, something Home-Start Portsmouth is helping with.

Lauren said: “Our volunteer John has been a breath of fresh air. Straight away he encouraged me to take Layla out. John helped me to not worry what other people are thinking. He said if Layla has a meltdown in public people won’t be judging, more likely they’ll be thinking we’ve all been there.

Before John came into our lives I found taking Layla to the park really hard. When it was time to go home she’d start hitting and kicking me. John’s shown me how to keep calm and that has really helped me to manage Layla’s behaviour. We’re so lucky to have him.

Home-Start has made such a difference in our lives. They’ve helped me get essentials I need to see us to the end of the month, they’ve directed us to support services for Layla, and they’ve given me confidence as a mum.”  

Sadly Lauren is just one of the millions of families struggling with the cost of living crisis. In communities across the UK, parents we work with are desperately worried about how they’ll manage to feed their children and to pay their energy bills.

Increasingly over the last 12 months local  Home-Starts are having to help families with the basics more than ever before. They are working hard to ensure families can put food on the table, heat their homes and clothe themselves and their children. It’s becoming harder to provide this level of support and local Home-Starts are having to make tough choices due to very limited funds.

We have to act, because childhood can’t wait.

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