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28 February 2014, 08:06 | Updated: 28 February 2014, 08:11
A rising number of food parcels are being handed out to struggling families in the New Forest.
Action For Children says 250 parcels were issued last month alone in just the eastern part of the Forest. The charity is blaming low incomes and delays in getting benefits.
Tracie Currie, service co-ordinator at Action for Children in the New Forest, said: “We’re seeing a huge increase in the number of parents who are asking us for food bank allocations, which shows how much financial pressure families are under.
“Money has become an issue for many families and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s far better for parents to come to us early so we can help prevent small issues from escalating, but this becomes much more difficult when parents have put it off.
“We have been able to help many parents through referrals to local food banks which incorporates debt advice from an on-site advisor. There is support available, so I would encourage New Forest families to come forward.”
It comes as the charity reveals shame and embarrassment stops one in five (19 per cent) parents in the South East from asking for advice about money problems.
Research published today shows more than 300 parents in the region also showed that one in five (20 per cent) don’t know where to get help and one in ten (11 per cent) don’t want to think about their money problems.
Emma Horne, UK South director of children’s services at Action for Children, said:
“At a time when the cost of living and raising children continues to grow faster than wages, it’s seriously worrying that people are put off seeking financial advice or simply sweeping problems under the carpet.
“Action for Children provides advice on managing money through our children’s centres. We know that money problems can be linked to other issues, like unemployment, changes in benefits or escaping domestic violence, but we can support families. There’s no shame in asking for help.”
Action for Children provides free money skills courses at many of its 200 plus children’s centres, and parents can ask staff for help at any of them.