An Aberdeen charity says working parents with young children are being forced to choose between taking less hours for work or going into debt to pay for child care – with either option leaving them going hungry.
Many people are being faced with difficult decisions as the cost of living crisis deepens.
As prices rise, including child care fees, people who may have managed to get by on smaller salaries are now having to rely on foodbanks.
Founder and trustee of Touch of Love Outreach, Jane Akadiri, described how many parents with children collecting food parcels are both in work.
‘Some parents working more are worse off’
The rise in fees for childcare is forcing many to work less in order to avoid debt.
Mrs Akadiri explained how parents receiving child benefits are finding nursery fees costing much more than funds being given.
She said: “They are stuck between paying for nursery fees, paying for heating and bills and there’s no food in the house.
“It’s hard because you can see they’re struggling and they’re hungry.”
One mother ended up working three less days a week to look after their one and two year old children.
The business owner said: “She’s telling me that if she works for five days of the week, she’ll be worse off because she can’t afford to put her child in the nursery and she’ll have to pay full nursery fees.
“She’s needing a balance and the only balance she could get was work for two days and take less wages.
“Stay with your child and reduce the nursery cost implications and then be hungry. So it’s like the lesser of the two evils.
“Whatever option she takes they’re going hungry. But she’s trying to say I’d rather be only hungry, I don’t want to go into overdraft and I don’t want to go into credit cards. I’d rather just know it’s only hunger I’m tackling.”
People ‘can’t get out of bed if they’re hungry’
Having been through a lot of hard times with her own family growing up and having children herself, Mrs Akadiri recognises the challenges many are facing.
After founding Touch of Love Outreach in 2020, she helped to start events based on building a community in Torry.
Two weeks later, when Covid hit, she wanted to maintain links with those who had come along and help support them.
Building a “brilliant” team of volunteers, they managed to support up to 60 families per week during Covid and have given out over 6,000 food parcels.
Vivienne Amakiri, a fellow trustee and volunteer, said without such services people will continue to remain “stuck” in vulnerable places.
The health and safety advisor said: “Most importantly, they can’t get up out of bed and leave their houses if they’re hungry.
“That’s where we’re coming in to help and to give that stepping stone encourage them to get out. To spend that money on a bus pass to try and get a job.
“They don’t have to think about do I spend money on a bus pass or do I get my kid’s milk.”
‘Volunteers shouldn’t be doing the government’s job’
While Mrs Akadiri is grateful for all those who help, she said it is up to the government to put things in place to “make sure that people are not waking up hungry”.
“Everyone here is a volunteer, no one is paid for what they do,” she added. “It’s just that they have the time and they feel like they want to but they shouldn’t be doing the government’s job.”The Press and Journal and Evening Express are working to raise awareness of the vital part foodbanks play in our communities, and where people can get help.
With hundreds of people relying on these food parcels, we are trying to debunk some of the myths and stigma around foodbanks and tackle food poverty through the Big Food Appeal.
Touch of Love Outreach is looking for more volunteers who can drive to help drop off food parcels and also any food donations. To find out how to help or for more information, visit their website.