One-Parent Family Helpline Calls Increase by 30% in 2014
Families Just One Bill Away from Disaster
(Dublin, Monday 22 December 2014) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone and sharing parenting – has recorded a staggering 30% increase in first time callers to its askonefamily helpline to date in 2014, with a marked increase in calls from working parents precariously balanced on the verge of homelessness or newly experiencing separation.
Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, comments: “The continued poverty of one-parent families in Ireland today is simply not acceptable. We are hearing from parents who are living on a knife edge; worried constantly about the basics such as food, heating and keeping a roof over their children’s heads. We have heard from parents who themselves do not eat an evening meal so that their children can, and from those needing to attend local food banks for the first time; mothers who get up at 5am to avail of reduced rate electricity to iron their children’s school uniforms; fathers who ration a bag of coal – often their only source of heating – into daily allowances. Many hundreds of families are living under the constant threat of homelessness, just one bill away from disaster. They survive week to week and planning for the future is a luxury they do not have.”
“The majority of these new askonefamily callers are working lone parents, low or middle income earners. While 53% of people parenting alone are in the labour market, one-parent families consistently have the lowest disposable income out of all households in the state and experience the highest rates of deprivation,” Karen continues. “Government’s activation measures from Budget 2012 are now being phased in with over 39,000 lone parents being moved to Jobs Seekers Transitional next year. They will no longer be eligible for the One-Parent Family Payment. Owing to their parenting responsibilities, many lone parents with young children must opt for part-time work but now we are hearing from many that they will no longer be able to afford to work. For a lone parent doing all he or she can to make a difference for their family, in an economy that we are hearing every day is now out of recession – and in this 20th anniversary year of UN International Year of the Family – this is shocking.”
One Family’s askonefamily helpline is also hearing more from parents who are now experiencing separation. Most tell us that years of stress and worry about household finances, combined with a lack of or reduced employment and income, have contributed to the end of their relationship. These families need specialist supports to enable them to separate well, establish shared parenting plans and keep their children at the centre of parenting. One Family offers relevant supports but Government needs to ensure accessibility in all parts of the country to appropriate services.
As evidenced by this increase of callers to askonefamily, the real impact of years of austerity is only now truly coming to the fore. Many one-parent families who were already living in consistent poverty are now barely managing to keep their family homed. More and more couples are separating, creating new one-parent or shared parenting families. Yet one-parent families in working poverty and parents sharing parenting of their children have borne the brunt of spending cuts such as the changes to the Single Person Child Carer Tax Credit last year, and the ill-formed re-activation measures flagged in Budget 2012.
Government must recognise and respond to this reality for so many of Ireland’s families. One Family reiterates its call to Government to enact its 10 Solutions campaign, with an immediate focus on provision of long-promised, affordable and accessible quality local childcare. Every parent should have an equal opportunity to create a better future for his or her children, and all children deserve that.
For further information on One Family’s 10 Solutions, click here.
The askonefamily helpline can be contacted on lo call 1890 66 22 12 or by email to email@example.com.
About One Family
One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services. These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 62 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day and presents the Family Day Festival every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.
Available for Interview
Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191
Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 664 0124 / e: firstname.lastname@example.org