Families are enduring another tough winter with energy bills and food prices causing significant hardship. Local Home-Starts provide frontline emergency support for the poorest families, a group that more and more families are falling into.

Bren Butler, Home-Start Erewash Manager, explains:

“To give you an insight into how bad things have got for families, staff at Home-Start Erewash now carry supermarket vouchers with them like petty cash. This serves two purposes. Firstly, it means as soon as they see a family struggling to provide food, they can immediately offer help.

"Secondly, it helps their own mental health to be able to do something to help lessen the immediate suffering they see before them. Because it’s not easy to see families, and especially children, hungry, cold and living in unfit conditions. And we’re seeing this all too often I’m afraid.

Who else is checking in on the most deprived families and ensuring they have enough food to see out the week? Increasingly we are becoming a frontline support service. At Home-Start Erewash, we cover large areas of deprivation, but we’ve never had to carry vouchers before".

Complex family cases

"Looking at our existing case load none of them are straightforward. They all have significant complexities, all made so much harder because of deprivation and the impact that has on mental and physical health and wellbeing. We are dealing with the aftermath of years of austerity, cuts to children’s services, the pandemic, and now the cost of living crisis.

A new partnership between Home-Start UK and Cadent is set to boost local Home-Starts’ ability to provide warmth to families. Through the Centre for Warmth programme, Cadent, the UK’s largest gas network supplier will invest £350k over the next two years".

Helping families escape the cold

"The funding will help local Home-Starts to continue to run warm groups so families can escape the cold and also provide slow cookers, carbon monoxide alarms, gas safety information, advice and support". 

Home-Start Erewash is one of the local Home-Starts that will be receiving support as a Centre for Warmth.

"Through the programme we received slow cookers that have gone out to families. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference. We are supporting a mum, who is going through a terrible time and is managing the legacy of being in a horrifically abusive relationship and the ongoing custody battle".

I haven't bathed or washed my hair in months

"Yesterday she broke down and shared the detail of the last eight painful months. She then apologised to us for being ‘smelly’. When we asked what she meant she said: ‘I haven’t bathed or washed my hair for months and I’ve been living on takeaways, but tonight I’m going to use my new slow cooker and cook myself something nice and treat myself to a bath.’ It brought tears to my eyes.

It’s the little things that are so enormously huge in their significance. Support like this is so valuable to us. Many of our families are not used to having someone step in to help them. Through corporate support like this, it helps us respond to families’ needs in a very practical way.”

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