A lifeline when families need us: Sarah's story

Monday 13 December 2021
Sarah and her family sat outside

Facing a challenging situation at home, Sarah was reaching her breaking point. Action for Children support proved crucial

Sarah Harris and her partner Edward live in Liverpool with their four children. The pandemic took a severe toll on the family. When life at home took a turn for the worst, Action for Children was right there to provide help.

Action for Children were a real lifeline for us when things were looking pretty bad. They really will help you in any way that you need help.


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The decision to get help

Six-year-old Sophie began to develop separation anxiety when she was two years old. But as she got older, Sarah grew worried when it wasn’t getting any better: “I was a bit concerned, because she just wasn't growing out of the clinginess and screaming, whenever I went anywhere.”

Illustration of a sad and stressed woman sitting in bed

Sarah was struggling to cope with the situation and realised she needed support

The family’s eldest child, Thomas also has additional needs – he is on the ASD pathway for autism. Sarah told us, “[Thomas] and Sophie often don’t get on. The way she behaves can bring on a big meltdown for him, so I must try and keep them both apart. I’m also not working, because I have the baby to look after.”

Before long, the emotional strain started to impact the whole family. And this was only made worse during the lockdown. This spurred Sarah to look for support for Sophie.

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Before I got in touch with Action for Children, I just couldn’t cope anymore. I was at total breaking point, and I didn’t know which way to turn.

A turning point for Sophie

Sophie soon began working with an Action for Children Junior Mentor, Lauren. Lauren was assigned to help Sophie improve her anxiety and self-confidence.

The two would spend their time going out on day trips and doing activities online during lockdown. Since their sessions began, Sarah can see how much they've helped; she sees a big difference in her daughter’s behaviour.

“Before Lauren came on the scene, I couldn't go anywhere without Sophie kicking off and having an anxiety attack,” Sarah told us. “Now she can go out and play with her friend… [Lauren has] helped to give her that confidence to explore without worrying about me and where I am. Sophie understands that wherever I go, I will always come back to her.”

The families' problems didn't stop there...

Accessing education during lockdown was an issue for the family when classes moved online. There was one mobile phone between the children and a laptop that Thomas borrowed from school. This meant they didn't have enough devices to all take part in online schooling.

Illustration of a sad little boy hungrily looking into an empty fridge

With the children at home, they couldn't afford to keep the cupboards stocked

Spending more time at home also meant they were spending more money. Food needed to be replaced more frequently, and the costs of their household bills continued to climb.

They were facing increased pressure on their finances – but with Sarah out of work, the family were stretching their money as far as they could.

… So our support continued

Through Action for Children’s Emergency Fund, Sarah was provided with a computer tablet, as well as food vouchers. This proved vital in helping the family through the difficulties brought about by lockdown and home schooling.

“Action for Children gave us £200 in [supermarket] vouchers to help with buying food, so I was able to stock my cupboards up again. That really helped us out a lot and relieved a lot of the pressure we were feeling.”

Having all the kids at home during lockdown meant that I just couldn’t afford to replace the food they were eating. With Action for Children’s help, I was able to stock my cupboards up again


“Before I got in touch with Action for Children, I just couldn’t cope any more,” Sarah shared. “I was at total breaking point, and I just didn’t know which way to turn.

“Action for Children was a real lifeline for us when things were looking pretty bad. They really will help you in any way that you need help.”

Help Action for Children do more

Unfortunately, Sarah's family isn't alone in their experience. Families all over the UK are struggling to afford the basics, like food and warmth. And Christmas can be the hardest time of all.

We’re doing everything we can to change this – and we need your help right now. Be a Secret Santa this year and you could help make a child’s Christmas more magical.

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