(Academic Researcher and Social Justice Advocate on behalf of St Vincent de Paul )
When I first met Martina, it was mid December and reminders of the impending celebration were all around us For those who exclaim ‘Christmas as a magical time of the year’ there are numerous many hard-pressed families like Martina’s who know all too well the hardship of such occasions, for Martina is a single parent. Martina didn’t plan it this way; she was in a loving relationship and worked full time, even with three children.
But when her relationship failed and her youngest became seriously ill requiring regular hospitalisation, she was forced to give up work.
When I ask Martina what is most difficult about lone parenting; she answers without hesitation ‘being judged’. I’ll admit I had not anticipated that. She goes on to explain the judgement as ‘people looking down on you’ in society and provides instances in relation to public services both in social welfare and education for her children. She contrasts that with her experiences at the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP ) in Galway, she says “They don’t make you feel worthless or have that look down on you; they don’t judge”.
That simple explanation is testimony to the SVP volunteers. Martina calls on SVP from time to time to deal with what, for someone on a low income, are really critical challenges like a broken down washing machine, back to school costs or unexpected medical related expenses. SVP for now are a ‘lifeline’ to her.
To see Martina’s full story go to www.advertiser.ie