A meeting taking place in Cork will hear how lone parents are struggling. Photo: Fa barboza

Mothers are going hungry to feed their children

By Marguerite Kiely

A meeting taking place on Leeside today, Thursday, will hear how lone parents are struggling to make ends meet as the cost of living crisis continues.

Louise Bayliss, a spokesperson of SPARK, a national advocacy and support group for lone-parent families will speak at an event on Thursday where lone parents will have the opportunity to give their input and insights into Cork City Council’s Local Economic and Community Plan.

She told the Cork Independent: “Mothers are going hungry to feed their children. What we are witnessing is that people are no longer making it through the week. The annual research from The Vincentian Partnership on the minimum standard of living reveals the disparity between what you need to sustain a basic standard of living and the current social welfare rates.

“The gap for lone parents at the moment is around €80 per week and it’s just not sustainable. Even though the cost of everything has gone up, lone parents budget stays the same.

“The reality of what we are hearing is that lone parents might go hungry a few nights in the week,” she revealed.

According to Louise, the group experiencing the highest level of deprivation are children in lone-parent households.

Citing the CSO’s Survey on Income and Living Conditions, she said this figure stands at approximately 43%.

She also noted that the rate of consistent poverty among children in lone-parent households is 3 times higher compared to the general population.

She also said homelessness is another issue that disproportionately affects lone-parent families.

Louise explained to the newspaper: “Currently, there are 3,472 children experiencing homelessness, and 55% of these children come from lone-parent households, despite the fact that they make up only 20% of the overall population.

“This indicates that lone-parent households are 3 times more likely to find themselves in emergency accommodation,” she added.

Louise also said when lone-parent families access emergency accommodation, they have specific barriers to contend with.

She continued: “In the homeless hubs for example, you are not allowed to bring children into the kitchen, but there’s also a rule that the children can’t be left alone in their room.

“So how do you cook if you are a lone parent?” she asked.

There are also numerous other issues that make life exceptionally challenging for lone parents, a group that often goes unseen, according to Louise.

One major obstacle, she said, is the lack of accessible and affordable childcare.

Louise said that this poses a significant barrier for those who can’t work due to caring for a child with special needs or have no suitable childcare options available to them.

Louise also said other issues concerning maintenance, welfare support, housing, and sufficient social welfare rates further compound the difficulties faced by lone parents.

“If you look at all of these issues, we are failing in every single of those areas,” she told the Cork Independent.

While there is much work to do, Louise said consultation with lone parents is a step toward to securing better outcomes in the future.

She told the newspaper: “This why the Local Economic and Community Plan event on Thursday is so important because the systems have been designed without thinking of the needs of lone parents and their children,

“It’s so important to have lone parent voices at the table,” Louise concluded.

Lone parents are invited to the LECP workshop where Louise will be speaking from 3-5pm Thursday 25 May at Millenium Hall, City Hall.

Have your say on the Local Economic and Community Plan Public Consultation via corkcity.ie/lecp.

The closing date is Friday 9 June.