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Home Policy and campaigns Media Debt and poverty, the biggest worry for single parent families in a record year for calls to Gingerbread's helpline
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Debt and poverty, the biggest worry for single parent families in a record year for calls to Gingerbread's helpline

26 May 2009

26 May 2009

During National Family Week, Gingerbread reports that numbers of single parents contacting its single parent helpline have soared by almost a third (29 per cent) from 2006/7 to 2008/9.*

This year has seen record numbers of calls to the helpline, with debt, home repossession, money worries and benefits as the number one reason why single parents are contacting Gingerbread for help.

The charity warns that half of single parent families are abandoned to poverty and feeling isolated in a year when the Government has failed to budge single parent poverty figures despite ambitious targets.**

According to poverty league tables released last week*** London, the West Midlands and the North West are the regions with the highest percentage of children living in poverty – Inner London 44%, Outer London 37%, the West Midlands – 35%, the North West 34%, and the North East 33%. Figures show that forty per cent of these children will be living in a single parent family.

Gingerbread urges single parents from these hard-hit regions to call its freephone helpline for benefits advice and for a calculation of their entitlements as their circumstances change during the recession.

The charity is currently fundraising to meet an estimated increase of 50 per cent of calls to its freephone helpline over the next year.

To promote the helpline, Gingerbread is releasing a new three-minute film short, to be launched on Youtube and on its website during National Family Week. Single parents from London will tell their hard-hitting stories and explain how the helpline was there for them at crucial stages in their lives as lone parents.

Fiona Weir, Chief Executive of Gingerbread said:

'These are tough times for single parent families. Recession-related problems are starting to filter through to us through our helpline. Single parents are telling our advisors that they are worried about debt, home repossession and how redundancy or cuts to their working hours will affect their ability to provide for their children.

'What we see from the vast majority of single parents is a remarkable resilience, a resourceful community spirit and an absolute commitment to giving their children the best possible start in life.'

Single does not have to mean alone. Gingerbread’s Single Parent Helpline offers expert information and advice for single parents:  0808 802 0925. Open 9am to 5pm Mon-Fri with an extended opening to 8pm on Wed.

Notes for Editors

*This year is the tenth anniversary of Gingerbread’s single parent helpline.

** Households below average income figures were released by the DWP on 7 May 2009.  Being in poverty is defined as living in a household with

***The Government has a 2010 target of halving child poverty

Case studies of single parents are available to be interviewed and photographed by journalists.

Single Parent Family  Fact File:
  • One in four families in the UK is headed up by a single parent.
  • 3 million children are being brought up by a single parent.
  • The average age of a single parent is 36.
  • 83 per cent of single parents, who took part in Gingerbread’s online survey*(Feb 2009) said the media portrayed them in a negative light.
  • 2 per cent of single parents are teenagers.
  • 79 per cent of single parents surveyed by Gingerbread said they had to turn down the heating to help manage their finances.
  • 39 per cent – over a third, told Gingerbread’s survey they had had to borrow money to help them manage.
*(Gingerbread online survey published Jan 2009 with 850 participants).

For release: During National Family Week

Contact: Amy Brown, 020 7428 5782

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