Friday 23 March 2018

'I had to move back in with my parents, pregnant and recently widowed' - Mum-of-one says more is needed to help young families

She called on the Government to do "a bit more for young families who are starting out"

Lily & Sinéad Hingston Credit: Mark Griffin Photo
Lily & Sinéad Hingston Credit: Mark Griffin Photo

Louise Kelly and Sasha Brady

A 36-year-old mother said she was left with "no choice" but to move back home after her husband died while she was pregnant with their child six years ago.

"My husband passed away when I was 30 and pregnant with Lily [now aged six], so we lost an entire income as he was self-employed," Sinead Hingston told

"We were living and renting in the UK at the time. I had no choice but to move back to Ireland and back in with my parents. I signed on to the social housing list in 2012, but was told I had very little hope considering I had my own bedroom in their home.

"I was extremely lucky to have an incredible support network around me, and with the help of the widows pension and returning to work, I slowly got back on my feet."

Financial professional Sinead is currently buying a home with her fiancé Michael after qualifying for the Help-To-Buy Scheme. She said she was disappointed to see that it wasn't included in this year's Budget.

"We have just bought in South Dublin and are waiting to draw down. We bought off plan in April and were extremely lucky to have got one of 11 houses on sale that day. It was probably the most stressful thing we've ever done," she said.

Left to right: Michael Green, Lily & Sinéad Hingston Credit: Mark Griffin Photo
Left to right: Michael Green, Lily & Sinéad Hingston Credit: Mark Griffin Photo

"We feel extremely lucky to have gotten one, considering the price of houses at the moment especially for young couples starting out."

Sinead said that she would loved to have seen the affordable housing scheme being reintroduced with the Budget - and for the Government to build more, small, starter homes "like two bed houses with little gardens".

While she welcomed the Government's plan to spend €1.83bn on social housing, Sinead said she feels the Budget fails to address the needs of those who don't qualify for social housing but cannot afford mortgages.

"I think the social welfare people will benefit massively from the Budget, and that's really positive, but I would have liked to have seen a bit more for young families who are starting out.

"The social welfare spend is a positive step but what about people who do work full time and don't benefit from working? I was on the social housing list myself so I know what it's like but there's nothing being done for young people who are working their asses off.

"We were lucky enough to avail of the Help-to-Buy Scheme as we wouldn't have been able to afford our home otherwise but I feel sorry for the 'in-betweeners', the ones who missed out before and the ones who are missing out now."

As a mum working full-time, Sinead said she was happy to see "some help given to working class parents in relation to creche fees" in Budget 2018.

"I went back to work when Lily was 9 months old, initially on a part-time basis and then back to full-time employment after a year. Lily went to a wonderful creche in South Dublin but full time costs were €1050 per month.

"I was lucky, my rent was not high, I could not have afforded it otherwise. The ECCE scheme [free pre-school year] was amazing, as it eased the pinch of full time childcare costs.

"The pre-school extension in the Budget is obviously beneficial to some families but I think what's really needed is some sort of creche fee management. Parents are crippled with the cost of childcare, for some it's almost like paying a second mortgage."

Sinead's daughter, now in primary school, does a number of after school activities and then attends aftercare.

"My mother collects her two days a week and her aunt one day which is a huge help financially," she said.

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