Meet Ted

Nothing I wouldn't do for my kids

It does hurt my pride a bit having to ask for help, but I put that aside so that the kids wouldn't go without.

“The beauty of the arrangement is that I go into the local shop that sells school uniforms with my children and get all their measurements, then I go back later by myself to meet the St Vincent de Paul Society volunteer and he pays for them – so my kids are none the wiser.”

- Ted

These are the words of Ted, a father of four, who says he and his partner were struggling to pay the cost of uniforms and books a few years ago, so he called our Welfare Assistance Call Centre for help. Ted’s local St Vincent de Paul Society conference member has been in touch with the family ever since, helping with education costs when needed.

Ted’s partner was badly injured in a workplace accident many years ago. Her injuries left her in pain and immobilised much of the time and Ted does all the cooking and cleaning for his family. He used to be a tradesman in heavy industry and once made good money, but when his partner’s needs developed, he became her full-time carer seven years ago.

“We went from being able to manage no problem at all when I was working to having next to nothing when I became carer. And now with the cost of everything going up and the children getting older and needing more all the time, it’s just getting worse and worse,” says Ted.

“Vinnies has been a massive help buying all four children school uniforms. I thought I was sorted this year, but my teenage son grew in between the few weeks when got him to try everything on and when it was time to start school again. It rained for the first time in a while recently and when he put his raincoat on, the sleeves were right up his arms. It’s hard to keep up when they’re growing so fast,” he says.

Ted, 54, says his partner manages their money very well and the help with school costs is one of the ways that the family just manage to keep their heads above water.

“It does hurt my pride a bit having to ask for help, but I put that aside, because what would the alternative be? The kids would go without. And we don’t want to put things on credit because then we won’t be able to pay for food. It all has a knock-on effect. I’ve volunteered in the past for charity shops so now maybe it’s our turn to get some help, that’s how I look at it.”

St Vincent de Paul Society doesn’t want anyone to feel embarrassed about reaching out, especially around education costs for their children, because no one is immune to needing a helping hand when things are tough.

“It’s a big relief not to have to worry about the uniforms and books because it affects your mental health when a bill comes in like the gas or electric, or the kids say they need something for school, and you’re always thinking ‘where am I going to get the money for that’.

Ted and his partner make savings where they can and find cheap alternatives to sourcing school stationary supplies. They have two teenagers and two in primary school, so the expenses are coming thick and fast. “They are getting to the age where they want to be doing activities so it is difficult. Neither of us thought we could have children so it was a surprise to end up with four, and we’ve always counted them as a blessing,” says Ted.

Ted is hoping to get some work soon as a delivery driver, which would give some flexibility with his hours so he could be available to go home at short notice if needed.

“I want my kids to experience life and not struggle the way I do,” says Ted. “If they don’t have the opportunity to study at school, then they won’t get anywhere will they? I’d be at my wit’s end without the help from St Vincent de Paul Society, and my kids would have gone hungry, that’s for sure. I hope people see how important it is to support these programs,” he says.

“Education lays the stepping stones to your future. If you haven’t got a good education, you’re missing your first steps.”

*Pseudonym used to protect the person’s identity.

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