Some families are just 19 days from breadline - claim

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The Bureau Manager of Ballymena Citizen’s Advice says she is not surprised by new research findings that the average NI family is 19 days from the breadline.

Research from Legal & General’s latest Deadline to the Breadline report, looking at the financial situation of households in Northern Ireland has found that within under three weeks (19 days) of losing their income, the average Northern Irish family would be reliant upon state benefits and friends and family alone for financial support, once their savings run out.

Local Bureau Manager, Michele Campbell said it’s a finding that doesn’t come as a shock to her. She said: “We usually have a rundown at this time of the year but there has been a noticeable steady increase for services since August with demand increasing every month.

“There is a new genre of client - ‘the working poor’. Those who are working but struggling because they are not getting enough hours. We work with a lot of clients that are in work,” said Michele.

She also pointed out that Ballymena has one of the highest rates of fuel poverty in the province.

“Clients have told us - it is either heat the house or feed the children. These are people in work, not benefit dependent. We also distribute food hampers, donated by Rotary, and we have no shortage of clients requiring them. We also refer clients to the foodbanks. It’s very sad and it could happen to anybody but we see ourselves as the place people can come to for advice and support.”