Project information

Gingerbread Single Parent Helpline

Our helpline service is free, confidential and independent, giving single parents access to high quality information, advice and support from expert advisers. Providing this support transforms the lives and livelihoods of callers - and their families - for the better.

December 2011 - January 2012

Charity information: Gingerbread, the charity for single parent families

Gingerbread, the charity for single parent families logo
  • Need


    There are 1.9 million families, with over 3 million children, headed by a single parent, ie 25% of all families with children in the UK. More than half of these households live in poverty. Single parents face a number of particular disadvantages with issues such as finding and keeping a job, meeting the cost of childcare, negotiating the legal system to agree contact and child maintenance, and securing benefit entitlements. A significant minority deal with homelessness and domestic violence.


    Access to high quality information, emotional and practical support is often the first step for single parents to find their feet again, understand their situation, make difficult decisions and plan for the future. Our Helpline gives single parents free, confidential and independent information and advice, delivered in a calm, friendly and non-judgemental manner. We employ experienced professinal advisers and also provide a comprehensive range of fact sheets by post and online.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To provide information, advice and practical and emotional support to callers to the Helpline.


    » Staff the Helpline with expert advisers, 31 hours per week Respond to callers with information, practical help, advice and signposting

    3,000 calls taken during December and January
    1,200 fact sheets despatched or downloaded

  • Impact


    Callers to the Helpline tell us about a range of positive outcomes. For example, they are equipped with the knowledge and resources to agree contact arrangments for their children with their ex-partner; they improve their financial situation by securing child maintenance or welfare benefits entitlements; or they gain the understanding and confidence needed to pursue work, training and education opportunities.


    Risk - Loss of confidence in Gingerbread as a trusted information provider to single parents.
    Response - We invest in continuing training and professional development for all our helpline staff to ensure that they maintain their expertise in all legal, social and welfare issues affecting single parents. We also ensure that a dedicated Information Officer works closely with our Policy Team to monitor trends and legislative changes, promptly updating information resources as required.


    We collate monitoring information, user statistics and qualitative feedback from callers which can be shared in reporting to donors. We are also working closely with the New Economics Foundation to develop new information systems to track and understand the impact of our work.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £40,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £32,000 Helpline staffing Salary costs - professional advisers working in shifts
      £2,500 Fact sheets Printing, postage costs
      £3,000 Information Officer Salary costs - writing, updating,editing fact sheets
      £2,500 Telephone costs Provision of freephone service
  • Background


    This is a national service available throughout England and Wales. We work in close partnership with One Parent Families Scotland, who run an equivalent service in Scotland.


    Single Parents from all parts of England and Wales

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Gingerbread has over 90 years' experience of supporting single parents via both service provision and campaigning to effect legislative and attitudinal change. We are a member of the Telephone Helplines Association, and our service is accredited as a provider of quality information and advice. The high quality of the service has also been recognised by the Department for Education and HMRC.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Angela Reynolds, Head Of Helpline

    Overall responsibility for operation of the Helpline service, ensuring it is publicised, promoted, staffed and monitored.