A woman cradles two small children

Aliyah’s story

When families are struggling to pay the bills and keep warm and fed, Barnardo’s children’s centres and family hubs can make all the difference, says Birmingham mum Aliyah*. 

“I began using my local Barnardo’s children’s centre in May 2022 when I was really struggling to put food on the table for my family”, explains Aliyah. “I have six kids and my youngest is seven months and oldest, 10 years old. When I was referred to Barnardo’s by my health visitor and social services, three of my youngest children were either in nappies or in the process of being toilet trained.

“Everything has gone up in price over the past two years and nappies were just one of many items I was struggling to afford, but Barnardo’s were quickly able to start providing me with them and other essential items like clothing and food vouchers when I literally had nothing.

The staff at Barnardo’s are so friendly and supportive. They listen to you unlike some other professionals, and my Barnardo’s support worker has helped me massively. For a long time I didn’t want to accept help, but she encouraged me to feel okay about receiving food vouchers which I could use at my local foodbank. She’s also helped me access things like housing and household support grants to reduce my utility bills.

Aliyah, a parent supported by Barnardo's

The positive impacts of being supported

Throughout winter, Barnardo’s Children’s Services staff and volunteers will be once again working tirelessly with families like Aliyah’s to make sure they get everything they need to stay warm and safe, but there are many more families across the country who need help.

“I love my Barnardo’s support worker, she’s like a friend to me”, says Aliyah. “She knows me so well and gives me encouragement and reassures me that I’m doing the best for my kids. She pushed for my health visitor to do an autism assessment for one of my daughters which I was really grateful for, and I know I can always speak to her when I’m feeling low or not sure about something.”

Aliyah is currently studying forensics at university and hopes to have a career in this field when she graduates. Whilst life remains challenging for her, she knows the staff and volunteers at her local Barnardo’s children’s centre will always do whatever they can to provide support.

“The kids love coming to the children’s centre and playing with all the toys and games”, says Aliyah. “During the school holidays, when the kids aren’t able to receive free school meals, we join the holiday kitchen club. Barnardo’s also provide advice and information and work with other organisations and community groups to make sure you’re getting everything you need if you’re a parent who’s struggling.

“Life remains really difficult, and the Government doesn’t make it easy for parents like myself who are studying to have a career by cutting things like Universal Credit, but I’m determined to be the best mum possible, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without Barnardo’s.”

*Name has been changed to protect the parent’s identity. 

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