Sep 13 2012 by Caitlin Black, Harrow Observer
STRUGGLING parents are being reminded about free services available to them locally while times are tough.
The Save the Children charity, best known for helping some of the world’s poorest families, revealed 80 per cent of parents in the UK admitted they were borrowing money for essentials such as food and clothes in a recent report called ‘It Shouldn’t Happen Here’.
Harrow Council wants to ensure all families in the borough are aware of the services available to them for free, or at a reduced price, to help them get through these hard economic times, such as child care, financial advice, health and wellbeing and libraries.
Mother-of-three Caroline Chalkley, of Park Crescent, Harrow Weald, runs one of the free parenting groups offered to single parents in Harrow, called Cheer, which gives emotional support to struggling parents.
She said: “I was a single mum with two young boys and being able to go to a parent support group was so helpful. I am now married and with three children, but I want to make sure families know there is help out there.
“Recently there have been lots of single mums struggling with debt. Some of the main issues we deal with are financial ones – a lot of mums have more than one child which puts more pressure on them financially.”
The 44-year-old said she would like Harrow to have a food bank, which distributes donated food to families who are going hungry, as the nearest one is in Brent.
“This would help so many children and parents who are struggling, so I really want to look into how to get one,” she added.
Portfolio holder for children, schools and families at Harrow Council, councillor Brian Gate, said: “Times are tough for people, so it is more important than ever that our residents have easy access to the many free activities, support systems and information available. We have pulled together some of the key information for families, advertising it on our website for access on the go.”