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Case Study

Calum’s Story

By 29th July 2020November 22nd, 2020No Comments

Single dad Calum had been in his new job for just two weeks when the Covid-19 crisis began. His employer was forced to close and he lost his full-time salary. Suddenly the only money he had to support himself and his son was Universal Credit.

Overnight, the cost of a supermarket shop became a challenge.

Red Hen works with his son’s school. They alerted us to the pair’s plight and thanks to a Cambridgeshire Coronavirus Community Fund grant from Cambridge Community Foundation we started delivering them a fruit and veg box every week, donated by customers of the Cambridge Fruit Company.

Calum said: “I was completely skint. It was a struggle to do a supermarket shop, just to get the basics together. Red Hen helped massively. Pretty much every weekend we got a veg box that would see us through the week.”

As we got to know Calum and his son, he opened up to us about other problems he faced.

Calum said: “A few weeks ago I had one of those weeks when it all goes wrong. My washing machine packed up, my oven broke, my microwave started to smoke. It seems when you’re going through a tough patch these things pop up.

“I mentioned it to one of the guys who was delivering the veg boxes. They said they might be able to help with buying a washing machine. By this point, it was spilling water across the kitchen and making a funny noise and I was really grateful for the help.”

We applied to the Cambridge Community Nursing Trust for help to replace his washing machine for Calum, a wonderful grant provider we have worked with for many years.

Now with Calum’s son moving up to a new school in September he will need school uniform, a cost he could not cover in the current circumstances. We are actively pursuing help from a national grant provider for people working in his industry to help with the cost of that.

Calum said: “My son has a big interest in coding but we had no desktop computer. They got him a Raspberry Pi! He’s been practising his coding. We had home schooling packs delivered from the school, but a lot is online and he hasn’t been able to do much. With the Raspberry Pi he has been able to go online and do more schoolwork as well.”

We have worked closely with other community partners during the pandemic to enable children to access their school work online.  The new Cambridge Digital Partnership was formed, and with help and guidance from James Lewis at CHS we approached Cambridge Youth Panel who were able to give his son a Raspberry Pi computer.

Reflecting on his experiences over the past few months, Calum said: “Red Hen do so much with the community helping people in need. What they are doing is invaluable. It’s a shame there aren’t more organisations like that. Before Red Hen got involved, I had no idea that kind of help was out there. They deserve all the help they can get.

“The veg boxes saved our bacon in a lot of ways. There are things you take for granted when you are doing well. It really hit home how important Red Hen’s work is when you are in a situation like this.”

If you would like to support a family like Calum’s, please contribute to our Summer Holiday Food Security fund. We have teamed up with Cambridge Fruit Company to create a fruit and veg box specifically designed for families with young children that also includes milk and eggs.

If you need help from us, please contact