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Friday, 21 June 2024

Comic Relief aims to dish up one million meals this winter for families struggling to get by

NEW research by Comic Relief reveals that over half (52%) of UK parents are worried about their ability to pay for food over the winter months, rising to over two-thirds (71%) of parents from single-parent households.

The cost-of-living crisis continues to have a devastating impact on families across the country, as millions of parents worry about how they will continue to provide enough food for themselves and their children.

The survey, commissioned by Comic Relief last month [November 2023], found that 40% of parents are worried about feeding their children during the Christmas holidays.

A third (32%) of parents said they will need to seek help with access to food over the coming winter months – yet worryingly a similar amount (37%) say they would not know where to go for help.

In the previous month, a quarter of parents (24%) surveyed said they or someone in their household had smaller meals than usual or skipped meals altogether because they couldn’t afford or get access to food. This rises to 37% of parents when asked if this had happened at some point in the past 12 months.

In the past year, one-fifth (20%) of parents said they or someone in their household did not eat for a whole day because they didn’t have enough food, while even more (26%) had been hungry but not eaten because they couldn’t access or afford food.

The survey, carried out by Censuswide with 2,013 parents of children aged 16 and under, has been released as part of Comic Relief’s drive to raise urgent funds to support more families and vulnerable people who are struggling to get by this winter.

Comic Relief is part of Jingle Jam – the world’s biggest gaming charity event – this December and is aiming to raise enough money to provide one million meals to support families struggling to afford food. The event sees gamers and streamers come together from across the world with a common goal to raise as much as possible for a range of good causes and have some fun along the way. With the money raised for Comic Relief, the charity intends to work with FareShare and local organisations to redistribute surplus food to help vulnerable people and families most in need of support.

For lots of parents, food banks have become an invaluable lifeline throughout the cost-of-living crisis. In the last year, 1 in 4 parents (25%) with a household income of £15,000 or less have visited a food bank.

The survey also found that 16% of parents are already sacrificing food so they can provide for their children this winter – increasing to almost a quarter (24%) of parents with a 16-year-old child.

While many parents are struggling, asking for help is not always easy. The top three things that would stop parents from seeking help with food and essential items this winter are the shame and embarrassment they would feel (34%), other people knowing that they can’t afford to support their family (28%), and their pride (26%).

With budgets increasingly squeezed, many parents are turning to forms of borrowing and debt – which can be easy to get into, yet difficult to get out of – to help manage their finances. The research found that 1 in 5 (20%) parents say they are already relying on Buy Now Pay Later schemes for essential items and even more (27%) think they may have to resort to this over winter. Meanwhile, over a quarter (26%) of parents surveyed are already relying on credit cards for essential items and 28% say they may have to resort to this over winter.

Samir Patel, CEO of Comic Relief, said:

“It is deeply concerning that over half of parents say they are worried about how they’re going to buy food for themselves and their children this winter, and that so many parents have gone whole days at a time without eating. The survey shows just how critical the situation is right now for millions across the country and paints a bleak picture of what the next few months will bring for those already desperately trying to stay afloat. We know the winter months will pile more financial pressure onto the most vulnerable, that’s why we are hoping to raise enough money this Christmas with Jingle Jam to provide a million more meals for those who are struggling, but we need your help. Please join us – your help could mean the world of difference.”

You can help Comic Relief provide more meals this winter for people struggling – find out how you can get involved at:


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