The Consortium’s latest research paper with the Ulster University Law Clinic was launched in Ulster University on 20th June. The launch included a summary of the main points in the research as well as a number of personal insights from the women who took part in the research. They spoke really powerfully about the impact of the Cost of Living Crisis on their lives and how it affected them, their children and families.
We wish to sincerely thank all the women who took part in the focus groups for the research and especially those who spoke about their personal experiences of the Crisis at the launch, all the Women’s Centres and Consortium partners who helped organise the focus group sessions, spoke at/supported the research launch and our friends in Ulster University who helped to write the report, provided the room/catering for the launch, funded the leaflet and have been so supportive with this research paper.
Following the findings of the research five key priority areas were identified for action and these were:
- Key Priority 1 – Women’s Centres provide trusted, local spaces for women to access help and support to address financial vulnerability and poverty in ways that work best for them. We recommend that Government should provide a long-term sustainable funding model which recognises the significant return on investment that Women’s Centres provide. This would enable them to continue and develop the vital services they provide.
- Key Priority 2 – The Holiday Hunger Scheme needs to be urgently reinstated to mitigate against food insecurity for women and children during the upcoming summer holiday period. The Healthy Start Scheme needs to be increased in line with inflation and those who are entitled should be automatically enrolled onto the scheme.
- Key Priority 3 – The Cost-of-Living Crisis has compounded the existing crisis in mental health, as women lose opportunities for social connection and peer support due to a lack of money. There is an urgent need to invest in services to prevent long term mental illness and loss of life.
- Key Priority 4 – The School Uniform Grant needs to be increased to reflect the average cost of a school uniform (including PE kit) which would move it closer in line with other countries in the UK. The grant should also include an allowance for school shoes.
- Key Priority 5 – We support the recommendations from the Independent Review of Discretionary Support and want to see increased investment in this vital fund to address rising levels of financial hardship and the impact of the Cost-of-Living Crisis.
Siobhán has held a number of meetings to discuss the research, findings and recommendations since the launch of the research paper and will continue to lobby for all the recommendations included in the research over the coming months:
- Meeting with Save the Children Northern Ireland
- Meeting with Mental Health Foundation Northern Ireland
- Meeting with Andy Allen MLA, Ulster Unionist Party (with Dr Ciara Fitzpatrick, Ulster University)
- Meeting with researcher from QUB
- Attending Carer Poverty Commission roundtable
You can read the full copy of the research paper on the Consortium’s website here:
You can also read a summary leaflet about the research and the Key Priority Areas here:
Also included on the Consortium’s website is a document containing quotes from the women who took part in the focus groups for the research organised by subject area which you can read here:
Siobhán is working with a student, Anna Monaghan, to produce a series of shorter summaries from the research focusing on specific areas such as Unpaid Care, Mental Health, the Costs of Education and the Value of Women’s Centres. It is hoped that these short summaries will be available on the Consortium’s website in the next few weeks and will also be distributed to local politicians. Siobhán wants to thank Anna for her invaluable help in this work.
Siobhán has also completed a series of tweet threads on social media highlighting various aspects of the research and using quotes from the women who took part in the focus group sessions. The quotes from the women provide a really valuable insight into the impact of the Cost-of-Living Crisis on them, their children and families and Siobhán is working to get these circulated as widely as possible. Tweet threads have been published on unpaid care, the impact on children, the value of Women’s Centres, school uniforms, additional school costs, women’s ability to socialise, rural women, ethnic minority women, debt/savings, women’s coping behaviours, mortgage interest rates, mental health, fuel/transport, working poverty, food and energy costs.