At our most recent See The Impact event, we heard about the real and ongoing effect of the cost of living crisis on families from some of the most disadvantaged communities in England.
Our See the Impact events are a great opportunity to share with our supporters the particular challenges facing the families we work with, and the impact of their generous support. We were joined for the event by Nicola Williams, our Family Intervention Manager and Amanda Chapman, one of our family support practitioners, who shared vital insights from their experiences working with children and families whose school attendance has been affected by challenges at home.
Families are facing the biggest fall in living standards since records began. Many of the families we work with are at a crisis point by the time they are referred to a School-Home Support practitioner like Amanda, who said:
“Families are struggling to feed their children well, and a lot are especially struggling to give their children proper food in the morning. Some of them are coming to school having just eaten a biscuit on the way to school. For these families, attendance is really low, and lateness has become heightened as well because of the stress at home.”
Amanda shared that the families she has worked with have said the most important thing to them during this crisis is to feel like someone is really listening to them. Our practitioners have the time, skills and resources to do this, and so can provide the support families need, when they need it. This could be emergency help with bills or food, support to access the benefits they are entitled to, or access to tools that build resilience with managing their finances.
One of the fantastic practical ways Amanda has supported the families she works with is through a new energy-efficient slow cooker course. As part of the course, families were provided with a slow cooker, a recipe pack, and the ingredients to take home. Plus, they attended weekly sessions at school where they could try out the recipes, share energy saving ideas and build a vital support network.
Crucially, Amanda’s support has helped to reduce the impacts of the cost of living crisis on the children by assisting parents to prepare the healthy and nutritious meals children need to be able to get into school, ready to learn.
Amanda reflected on the added benefits of the sessions: “It has really helped the families, and what was great about it was that the families were able, during the sessions, to share ideas about different ways of saving energy, so it was an opportunity to connect with other parents and build a support network.”
During the See the Impact event we also heard from Dominique, a parent in Croydon working with School-Home Support practitioner Joyce. Dominique shared with us via video the impact of the cost of living crisis on her family, and the ways in which Joyce’s support had helped her family and especially her oldest son.
“Since my son found out about the SHS support, it’s definitely made a big difference and has had a positive impact on his mental health. With him being the older brother, and being used to seeing mum struggle, now he sees that mum is getting the support she needs from the school, and it’s giving him more hope that he’s going to continue receiving the help that he needs as well.”