The Action for Children survey found that a new wave of parents who have never needed help were now struggling financially due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on their livelihoods.
The survey of over 1,000 parents and 1,000 children, aged six to 15, was carried out in partnership with YouGov across the UK. It found that more than half of the children thought their parents were worried about making it a happy time for the family.
Caroline Rose and Neil Tugby, who live in Sandwell, had always been in work since their teens, but were both made redundant from the same manufacturer shortly after the spring lockdown. Neil was a quality control inspector and Caroline an accountant. She was on maternity leave following the premature birth of their daughter Heidi, who has since been in and out of hospital.
Miss Rose said: “We had everything planned for Heidi and knew how much we’d need to put away for maternity leave.
"So, when we were both made redundant, we thought it would be sensible to use the redundancy money to pay off the debt we had and apply for Universal Credit while we looked for new jobs.
"But they then told us we didn’t qualify as we should’ve used the redundancy money to live on. We were both left completely penniless with no food in the cupboards.
"That’s when Action for Children stepped in and paid for two food shops and for some toys. I hate asking and I feel guilty, but we aren’t in the position we were a year ago.
“I’m dreading Christmas as I’m struggling with my mental health, and Neil’s hair and beard is falling out from all the stress too.
"I’ve found a part-time job but it’s not enough and Neil found a temp job but because we’re now shielding for another operation for Heidi, they had to let him go after only a few weeks."
At one stage the couple only had £12.12 in their bank account, were worried they would lose the house and were considering selling her engagement ring. However, since the survey Mr Tugby has found a job and they hope to be able to keep their home as a rswy
“I think we have £12.12 in the bank right now. How am I going to pay our rent? We’re probably going to lose our house as our savings have run out.
"I’m now considering selling my engagement ring. We’d definitely be cancelling Christmas this year if we could.”
Nearly half of parents on Universal Credit surveyed are facing their first ever Christmas on the benefit.