Young mothers are going hungry so their children can eat in Theresa May’s Britain

Young mums in the UK are skipping meals to make sure their children are fed. A survey of 300 mothers under 25 reveals that over half are struggling financially in Tory Britain.

Food bank usage is at a record high. Vulnerable mothers are using baby banks too, unable to afford essentials for their newborns. Almost half of single parent families live in relative poverty. And research has repeatedly shown that women are hit hardest by austerity. Analysis published in 2016 shows that women bore 86% of the impact of benefit cuts and tax hikes since 2010.

Young mums are no different. Research commissioned by the Young Women’s Trust found that 46% of young mothers are regularly skipping meals to feed their children. A quarter said they had used a food bank.

Barriers

The barriers young mothers face in finding and keeping employment contribute to this. Young Women’s Trust previously released a report [pdf] analysing young mothers’ experiences in society. A quarter reported discrimination in the workplace when they became pregnant. Nearly 40% had been asked how motherhood would impact their ability to work in a job interview. One in four left a job because they couldn’t afford childcare.

Difficulties with employment soon lead to financial problems. 61% of young mothers in the survey said they were only just managing financially. One in ten described themselves as “extremely worried” about money.

Something has to give

Anna (not her real name), a 23-year-old mum, was referred to a Trussell Trust food bank with her young son after an operation left her out of work longer than anticipated. Statutory Sick Pay was a drop in money compared to her usual wage. She says:

I’ve really struggled to pay bills, rent and feed myself and my young son. Something had to give.

Read on...

Thankfully for Anna, the food bank was able to offer support to keep her afloat. For many other young mothers, when something has to give, they are left with nothing.

Legacy of austerity

The Young Women’s Trust spoke to young mothers in focus groups to identify solutions to this problem. They overwhelmingly wanted cheaper local childcare, jobs with flexible or part-time hours, and a change in the attitudes employers have towards pregnant women. Essentially, they need support to find and keep work that they aren’t getting.

Under-25s are also not entitled to national living wage. If they are not in work, they receive a lower rate of benefits. Most of the young mothers that the Young Women’s Trust spoke to worked in low-paid industries like care and cleaning. With wages already low and fragile, it is easy for things to go wrong.

When they do go wrong, it is clear that young women are turning to drastic measures to make sure their children eat – even if they themselves do not. And as is the case across the board, it is food banks that are stepping in to offer support when it is needed, not the government. This is the tragic legacy of Conservative austerity.

Get Involved

– Support the Young Women’s Trust.

– Support the Trussell Trust.

Featured image via Flickr

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed