A Struggle for Survival: The Unseen Realities of Ukrainian Families in the UK

In a world where the cost of living continues to rise, the challenge of making ends meet is an all too familiar story for many of the people we support. The stark contrast between government stipulations and the reality often leaves individuals struggling to bridge the gap. 

The reality of the cost of living crisis

According to the UK government, the minimum amount required for a single adult to live on is estimated at £326.26 per week. This figure takes into account various factors including accommodation, food, transportation, and other essential expenses. It's a reasonable estimate of what is necessary to maintain a basic standard of living. However, the discrepancy between this official estimate and the reality faced by individuals is striking. Universal Credit, the government's main form of support for those on low incomes or without work, falls significantly short of the £326.26 benchmark. For single individuals under the age of 25, the monthly allowance is set at just £292.11 - a far cry from what is considered the minimum required.

To further complicate matters, the cost of living varies greatly depending on your location. Take London, for instance, where the average person requires around £1,500 per month to cover basic expenses. The soaring costs of accommodation, transportation, and everyday essentials create a glaring disparity between what is deemed necessary and what is actually provided.

Whilst the allowance is more for families research by Save the Children and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation highlighted that more than a third of families on Universal Credit and Child Tax Credits have had to rely on help from charities like Goods For Good for essentials, including children’s clothes. Parents surveyed also spoke of the ‘shame’ of not being able to provide for their children.

This issue is further exacerbated by the ongoing cost of living crisis, as individuals find themselves grappling with rising expenses and stagnant wages. The result is a deeply troubling situation where many are left struggling to make ends meet, facing difficult decisions and sacrificing necessities just to get by.

Sadly, as we support thousands of people each month who are barely surviving and struggling with increasing debt, we hear first-hand of those experiencing financial hardship. Mykola and Svitlana's story resonates as a poignant reminder of the stark contrast between government stipulations and the harsh faced by many.

Meet Mykola and Svitlana

When Mykola and Svitlana came to the UK, they were seeking a safer life for their young family. Having fled Ukraine in 2022 they moved to Watford hoping for stability and opportunities that their homeland couldn't offer. However, instead of security they found themselves in a constant battle to survive, to put food on the table, and to keep a roof over their heads.

Mykola is unable to work, so the family’s main source of income is Universal Credit. But the support they receive is barely enough to cover the rent. The weight of financial strain has been overwhelming, making it difficult to enjoy the simple joys of parenthood and the promise of a new life in a foreign country.

At Goods For Good we believe that basic necessities should not be a luxury, but a right for every family. Through the support of our corporate and charity partners and with the help of our volunteers we have provided the essentials this family so desperately needed – nappies for their newborn, warm clothing and footwear for their teenage son Danylo, as well as toiletries and bedding. This support has provided a lifeline, alleviating some of their immediate worries and anxieties and enabling them to redirect their focus toward addressing pressing concerns, such as paying bills and securing a stable living environment.

It's a harsh reality that thousands of Ukrainians, like Mykola and Svitlana, are struggling; not just to settle in but to survive in the UK. Whilst the generosity of our community has helped us support many people displaced from Ukraine, thousands still face major challenges. Cost of living pressures and lack of support have increased the risk of homelessness, with a recent report from the British Red Cross highlighted that: 

  • 4,000 Ukrainian households in England have been made homeless or are at risk of homelessness in the last year
  • The rising cost of living crisis is putting huge pressure on both Ukrainians and their hosts


Shining a light on the unseen struggle

We want to shine a light on this unseen struggle and address the stark disparity between government estimates and the reality of individuals struggling to make ends meet.  Mykola and Svitlana's journey reminds us that behind every statistic lies a human story. If you have been moved by what you have read, we urge you to take action - your support really can help change lives. By donating to Goods For Good, you will be offering a lifeline to struggling Ukrainian families in the UK. For every £1 donated we can  deliver £50 worth of essentials. Help ease the burden and donate today. 


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