Benefits support individuals and families financially when they need it. There are benefits that are for;
It is a good idea to check you and your family are getting all of the benefits you are entitled to. The GOV.UK website has a recommended benefits calculators *here*.
It is important that you report any changes in your circumstances as soon as possible so you are not being paid too much or too little. Find out more about changes you need to report and how to get in touch *here*.
If money is tight it can be tempting to borrow; from friends and family, store and credit cards or other loan companies. This can become a big worry quite quickly and the money you have coming in can be eaten up by what you already owe.
If this has happened to you don’t feel embarrassed - there is help available. It can be tempting to hide from the problem but the first step is to accept something needs to change. Keeping it to yourself can have a bad affect on your mental wellbeing. There are always ways that you can be helped with your money worries.
Where To Start?
If it all feels overwhelming and you can’t see how to get back on track, this can be a sign that it is time to get some expert help. Get specialist advice from an independent, free to use provider. They are expert at helping people through debt problems. You could try;
When you see an expert for help it is a good idea to have a list of all income, costs and debts ready - this will help them to help you.
Being in debt can cause so much stress and upset. Having a plan to get back on track will be a weight off your mind.
Be aware that there are many other companies that say they can help you sort out your debt. You should be able to get the advice for free they should not refer you to high interest rate services.
If you are struggling to feed your family, you can get help from a local foodbank, local services or use a community fridge
Free School Meals
All children in Year Reception, 1 and 2 will receive free school meals.
From Year 3, children whose parents or carers get one or more of the following may also be able claim free school meals;
You can find out more about how to apply for free school meals *here* or ask your child’s school for help.
Getting everything your child needs for school can be an added pressure when you are on a budget. There are ways to keep the costs down and help available if you need it.
Start getting ready early – that way you can decide exactly what you need and spread the cost too.
If you are worried that you cannot afford the uniform your child needs Norfolk County Council's Norfolk Assistance Scheme may be able to help.
There may also be local charitable organisations who can offer support with this. Ask your child’s school for advice on how you can access this help.
Schools know affording uniform and equipment is not easy for a lot of families and are used to people asking for help.
Norfolk County Council has a directory of local charitable organisations.
Fuel poverty describes when people struggle to pay for the energy (gas, oil or electricity) they need to keep their home warm, cook their food and have hot water. If they pay for the fuel they need they won’t be able to afford other essentials.
You should not have to choose between these and if you are struggling there may be help you can access.
Whilst technology is not essential, it is becoming more recognised that it can hold families back if they do not have access to the internet or a device. This is true for families where someone is searching for work. As children get older it can harder for them to fully engage in some parts of their education without it.
There is sometimes support available to get hold of laptops, dongles, smartphones and Wi-Fi. Norfolk Assistance Scheme may be able to help with these costs in some circumstances.
If you are struggling to set up home learning equipment, Norfolk Libraries service can offer guidance and advice to families to help get them online and set up. You can talk to a member of library staff on the end of a telephone on 01603 774777 from 10am-6pm Monday to Friday and 10am-4pm on Saturdays.
If your child has no access to technology – speak to your their school / college in the first instance. They may be able to help or signpost you for support.
The Big Norfolk Holiday Fun Programme provides holiday activities for children and young people aged 5-16 in Norfolk. If your child is 4 years old but they are in school, they can take part. It helps your child move lots, eat well and have fun.
The next Big Norfolk Holiday Fun programme will be taking place during the winter holidays and will start on 19th December.
Children who are eligible for means-tested free school meals can claim free spaces on the activities, whilst paid spots are available on many activities for those who don’t.
The Norfolk Assistance Scheme (NAS) is there to help local families with some practical support, urgent costs and expenses. During the coronavirus pandemic they are making sure support is available.
You can speak to any professional working with your family, they will be able to support you to access the help you need.
If you or someone you know is facing hardship and needs support now, they can access support from the Norfolk Assistance Scheme or by calling 01603 223392 (Option 5). They can help provide food, clothes and other essential household items to families in need.
You can also contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.
You can speak to other Norfolk parents and carers by clicking our online community forum below.