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Becoming a parent is hard work, and it can be even harder without family or friends around to support you. You may be worried about how you will cope financially or how you will continue to study or afford childcare while looking after your baby. Family Lives is available free 24/7 if you need someone to talk to call our free and confidential helpline on 0808 800 222 (previously known as Parentline).
Some parents can get help with childcare costs by claiming Tax Credits. Single parents must work a minimum of 16 hours a week, while couples should both work at least 16 hours a week. Further information, such as how to claim, can be found here.
Universal Credit is a new benefit that has started to replace 6 existing benefits with a single monthly payment into your account. Universal Credit will help you to be better off in work, start a new job or work more hours. For more information please click here.
Finding somewhere to live can be a real challenge and affording to live there can be even more difficult. Shelter is a national homeless and housing charity. Visit the website: www.shelter.org.uk for advice about your situation. Alternatively, you can call Shelter on 0808 800 4444 between 8am-8pm Monday-Friday and 8am-5pm Saturday-Sunday.
Get Connected is an organisation which offers confidential help for young people. You can contact Get Connected for advice about housing here. Call 0808 808 4994 to speak to someone free between 1pm and 11pm. If you’re on a low income, or do not work, you may qualify for housing benefits to help you pay the rent. There are a lot of restrictions, so visit this website to see if you qualify for help.
Healthy Start is a scheme offering free vouchers which you can swap for milk, fruit, vegetables and vitamins. The vouchers are for people under 18 who are pregnant, or with children under four years old. Visit www.healthystart.nhs.uk to see if you qualify for vouchers.
You may be able to claim Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) if you’re studying in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales. EMA is now closed in England. See the Gov.uk website more more information. If you're age 16-19 and studying in England you may be able to apply for a 16-19 Bursary Fund. You can't apply if you're already studying at university, visit the website to see if you are eligible.
If you’re currently studying and wish to continue once your baby arrives, there is a scheme from the government that can help to make this possible. Care to Learn is for people under 20 who are already a parent at the start of their course and is designed to help with the cost of childcare while you are studying. To find out if you qualify visit the website. For more information call the Learner Support helpline on 0800 121 8989. For help filling in the form, visit your Connexions Personal Advisor, or ask your school or college for help.
According to a study by Barnardo’s, many young parents don’t realise what benefits they are entitled to, and are often not claiming as much as they could. Find out about benefits from Gov.uk
You could get a one-off payment of £500 to help towards the costs of having a child. This is known as a Sure Start Maternity Grant. You must claim the grant within 11 weeks of expecting the baby or within 3 months after the birth. Usually, to qualify for a Sure Start Maternity Grant there must be no other children in your family and you must get one of certain benefits, such as income support or universal credit. Visit the website for further information.
You may feel like you are alone, but there are many services that offer support to young parents. Straight Talking are the national teenage pregnancy charity. They employ teen parents who go into schools to talk to young people about what it really means to be a teenage parent. Check with your local Family Information Service to see whether they run young parents groups, where you’d be able to meet other mums or dads in the same situation as you. Onespace is a website for single parents offering advice and local support. Here, you can make friends with other single parents, find local services and events as well as local organisations that can make life more comfortable for you. The Single Parent Travel Club links single parent families together so that they can enjoy trips, events or holidays with other families. Visit www.sptc.org.uk for more information.