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02 September 2013

Parent finances stretched to breaking point

Parent finances stretched to breaking point

Research has revealed that many families find finances stretched to breaking point over the school holidays, with 40 per cent of UK adults with children aged 16 or under worried about being able to afford the basics such as, the costs of meals, clothing and keeping their children occupied in the holiday weeks.

Some 39 per cent of respondents to the YouGov poll commissioned by Alliance member organisation The Salvation Army couldn't afford to take their children on a week-long break this year in the UK or abroad. The Salvation Army gives hundreds of disadvantaged children aged eight and over a holiday every year at summer camps.

Major Denise Cooper, The Salvation Army's national children's ministries leader, explained: "This survey shows just how difficult parents can find the summer months when their children are not at school. We see that increased costs such as providing extra food for children, as well as keeping them entertained and buying new school uniforms, just adds pressure financially.

"For many vulnerable young people, Salvation Army summer camps offer a rest from the strains of often difficult home lives, with the week-long trip away providing the only holiday they will get. Our summer camps are part of our work to provide compassionate and caring support and practical help."

The YouGov survey also showed that 45 per cent of those in a certain social group were more likely to be worried about providing the basics for their families over the summer.

Summer camp attendee Ashley-Rose, 11, said: "This is the third year I've gone. I enjoy all the activities and getting stuck in. There's me and a few girls in my street who go. It is exciting. I love going on the climbing wall and the zip wire. It is really fun."

Her mother, Natasha, said: "It is a fantastic opportunity that the children can get involved in. They do lots of activities. It helps with child care as it's a week taken care of in the summer holidays and they have good friends who go."

According to the survey, parents were more likely to be facing particular hardships in Wales and the Midlands, where 50 per cent and 48 per cent, respectively, say they couldn't afford to take their children on holiday this year.

In south and mid-Wales, The Salvation Army runs an annual week-long adventure camp, attended by children referred through social service departments and through other agencies.

Korin Jones, The Salvation Army's children's officer for south and mid-Wales, said: "The kids come from challenging home backgrounds and the ethos of our adventure camp is 'to allow children to be children'. As the week goes on we see them begin to relax, free of the cares and responsibilities they face at home."