PARENTS are being forced to choose between eating themselves or feeding their children due to the rising cost of living in Southend.

As inflation rises by 5.4 per cent, Southend parents are struggling with increasing numbers of families relying on help from community foodbanks.

A Better Start Southend is a programme to support parents in the borough, but “parent champions” within the organisation have revealed the tough situation some families face.

READ MORE >> Jack Monroe slams inaccuracy of 5 per cent rise of cost of living on GMB

Joanne Webb said: “The cost of living means that parents are choosing whether their children eat or whether they eat themselves.

“These rises have a massive impact, but it’s not just food as all of our utilities have gone up recently too; everything from rent to insurance, to electricity and gas.

“So, parents are struggling to get by on 2016 wages at 2022 prices, and it has such an enormous impact.”

Joanne added that parents “feel lucky” because of the amount of community and charitable organisations there are to help in Southend.

She added: “We’re really lucky in Southend though and I say that in a truthful way because we have got an amazing, growing, volunteer community, including support at food backs, a number of different schemes and children centres.

“Those volunteer networks that we have, help in taking away some of the stigma that comes from being in these situations.

“It means that those of us that are living it on the front line, you don’t feel quite so ashamed in reaching out for the help that’s there.”

Parent Champion and mother Lucy Jeffreys added that assumptions about people who are struggling is impacting families further.

She said: “I think there’s too much assumption that these families that are struggling aren’t working, which isn’t always true.

“My gas and electric bills have jumped up by nearly £200 a month, when we are already struggling.

“Then to put my 18-month year old in nursery, and my oldest daughter in after school club, I’m looking at nearly £1500 a month, it isn’t accessible, it isn’t affordable when we are working or trying to get into work with prices like that.”