Bailing out feckless relative - would this work?

(56 Posts)
sparechange Fri 05-Aug-16 17:42:14

I have a relative who lives a long way away from me, and is completely feckless. Previous addiction issues, a catalogue of unsuitable (verging on inappropriate) relationships. No job for years, mostly using her DCs are a cover story for not wanting to work, while being a totally useless mother. The house is always a tip, DCs in dirty clothes with a mountain of laundry, cupboards are empty, but her hair and nails are always done. I'm not being judgy (well I am) but trying to paint a picture that she firmly puts herself first. Her parents have tried so, so many times to help and it never helps. After her last spell of drug use, they withdrew help as far as I'm aware (I'm not close to them).

Her immediate family have all but washed their hands of her, but stay in lose touch with her, and pop in when I'm in the area. I usually take them all out for a pub lunch, and will be asked for money for 'urgent bills'. I've given her small amounts most times, but have no doubt it gets spent on everything but bills.

Anyway, I've just had a call from her in a panic. Muddled story, but she has no money and no food, and the kids (6,9,12) will have nothing to eat all weekend. Please can I send her some money, she will pay me back.
I suspect that to call me, she has already called her immediate family and been told no.

I'm not giving her money. I just know it will get spent on booze or worse. Even if at this point in time, she intends to spend it on food, the temptation will be too much when the money drops into her account.

So my thought was to set up an account for a supermarket delivery service, but not include the payment details. Give her the log in and ask her to do an order. When she is finished, I log back in, change the password and then add the card details and pay. If she really has nothing for tonight, I can order them a takeaway.

Will this work? The cruel part of me thinks she will never truly get help until she hits rock bottom, but the thought of those kids being hungry all weekend is just something I can't ignore. Worst case, she is just after money but will end up with some food which will keep until the next time she runs out of cash.

DerekSprechenZeDick Fri 05-Aug-16 17:44:44

I'd offer the shop. If she's been truthful she will be grateful

More than most would do but it's one way to see if it's genuine

RandomMess Fri 05-Aug-16 17:46:33

I would ask her to write a shopping list of food and then just order it for her. I would not get into her logging on etc.

I actually I may just think up enough meals for x days that even her 12 year old should be capable of making and get that delivered...

Meantime report to social services (no doubt they are on the radar)

travailtotravel Fri 05-Aug-16 17:46:48

You're very kind. I wouldn't ask her to do an order. I'd do dne for her,otherwise I'd see the with anger at the addition of apparent essentials like 8 tons of Haribo. obvs add some e treats but I'd keep it pretty basic,otherwise there'll be a call next weekend, the one after. ....

pimmsy Fri 05-Aug-16 17:50:06

I think this is a fantastic idea, and second the suggestion that you choose the food, just check she has an oven or a stove/microware that is working so you don't get told off because she does have anything to cook with.

I also think that once you have paid for the shop you should treat yourself to a glass of wine or some chocolate, or some cheese, or possibly all three.

Floralnomad Fri 05-Aug-16 17:50:29

Agree with pp ,just get her to email you the list and then you deal with it and order pizza for tonight .

magoria Fri 05-Aug-16 17:51:18

I wouldn't.

Or you will be paying for another supermarket shop next week because she will spend the money elsewhere.

And the next.

Do you think her nearest family aren't devastated by the thought of the DC going without food (if it is true)? You are not going to be the first or last she has used that as a way to get stuff.

There is a reason they are not helping.

Don't step into their shoes.

dangermouseisace Fri 05-Aug-16 17:51:56

never had experience of this but it sounds very reasonable/kind. You are actually giving her the option of choosing her food, rather than just her being given what is deemed suitable. I would be a bit worried about her choosing stuff that could be resold for cash…I'd make it clear this is a one time offer and then call social services on Monday to let them know what's going on…maybe she's not getting enough support with her parenting/budgeting.

But…if she says the kids have nothing to eat why weren't they sent to a food bank? Usually job centre/social services etc can refer people and this was a weekday, so there's no reason why not.

HughLauriesStubble Fri 05-Aug-16 17:52:13

I wouldn't even ask her to make a list, just pick out the food yourself and have it delivered to her. Also as random said, report to ss. Awful situation. I'm betting the poor eldest is rearing the rest of them sad

sparechange Fri 05-Aug-16 17:53:03

I thought about getting her to chose, so it isn't too patronising. If a delivery turns up on her doorstep, I didn't know if that would make her feel like a charity case. But I guess to phone someone you see once a year and beg for money means she sees herself as one already.

I wish SS would take an interest, but they didn't seem to be interested last time. She paints herself a boho free spirit and seems to fly below the radar. I'm 100% certain that if she was working class, they would intervene, but she isn't and it seems to be massively minimised as hippy behaviour rather than the neglect it really is.

I wish I could scoop those kids up and give them a better life away from her sad

MadisonMontgomery Fri 05-Aug-16 17:53:16

Yes do a shop yourself - check what cooking facilities she has and plan accordingly. I wouldn't make it too yummy either or you might be getting these calls every weekend.

AnyFucker Fri 05-Aug-16 17:54:52

I wouldn't consider this

I would make the call to social services

This isn't a temporary blip, this is a lifestyle

And the kids are suffering

Discobabe Fri 05-Aug-16 17:56:32

I think it will store your details and she will be able to see them if she's able to log in, plus she could still buy alcohol etc. Do the shop for her.

TestingTestingWonTooFree Fri 05-Aug-16 17:59:06

I'd ask for a shopping list but would chose the stuff myself. No point wasting stuff the kids won't eat. She's not going to pay you back though so you're gifting her £40 (or whatever the minimum order is). If you already shop online you might be able to change the address.

Be clear that she needs to sort herself out next week.

sparechange Fri 05-Aug-16 18:02:09

Ok, I'll do a shop for her. Asda and Sainsburys can delivery on Sunday morning, and I can get a few pizzas tonight

Dumb question, but what do I get for her? I'm going to assume she has gas and electricity but not much inclination to cook.
Fishfingers?
Tins of soup and veg (sweetcorn, beans, kidney beans?)
Cereal, milk, bread, cheese
Spuds, carrots
a few crisps and biscuits?
I don't know where to start with this sad

pimmsy Fri 05-Aug-16 18:02:19

Hi sparechange,

Have you considered phoning the childrens' schools once they go back in September ? Just to check the are getting free school meals ? This may set something rolling with social services.

All the best to you

sparechange Fri 05-Aug-16 18:03:50

AF, I don't know if she genuinely has nothing to feed them, or is emotionally blackmailing me for money
Both are equally likely, I think
I'm 3 hours away so can't check up or do anything directly for the kids, but am worried they will suffer more by her being punished for her continued idiocy

DeathStare Fri 05-Aug-16 18:06:17

It's lovely of you to do this but please check what she wants before ordering. If her kids are fussy eaters or have allergies it could just end up being a waste

Buggers Fri 05-Aug-16 18:07:37

Just get her the basics otherwise she'll be expecting it every week. Has she said she wants a shop? Chances are you'll offer and she will magically find food in the freezer as she just wanted the cash..

Bailey101 Fri 05-Aug-16 18:08:40

My sister is the same with money, she just can't spend it appropriately and I got sick of subbing her. Ive done exactly what you're suggesting and it's worked well - we live at opposite ends of the country so I can't take her out to the supermarket.

I added her address onto my account and then I out together the order with her on the phone.

Cagliostro Fri 05-Aug-16 18:12:18

Agree with AF I think sad horrible horrible situation

sparechange Fri 05-Aug-16 18:24:34

Just called her back to say I couldn't get into my online bank to send her the money (I know, fucking stupid of me to lie) but I could do a shop for her instead so she had some food

She got stroppy with me and said she would rather the money because she can buy things cheaper in local shops.

I'm fucking furious with her, and also with myself for believing her story and wanting to help. Fuck her.

sparechange Fri 05-Aug-16 18:25:11

I'm texting her family to let them know what's happened, in case they want to get involved.

I'm so cross with myself.

GloGirl Fri 05-Aug-16 18:25:20

I'd ask her for a list.

And I would get something like:
Large block medium cheddar
Large loaf white sliced bread
2 x boxes of cereal - one plain, one treat
2 x choc biscuits
4x UHT milk
4 pints full fat milk
tea bags
small bag granulated sugar
2x jelly blocks
tub plain vanilla icecream
Bag Pasta
Jar tomato sauce
Tin hot dogs
6x bread buns
1x bag frozen veg
4x tins soup
Misc fruit and veg to suit.

I'd probably get something childish for the kids for a treat - like a crappy 'lunchable' snack box each or pop tarts or something.

I'd tell her you can't afford to do it again. Google her area and food banks.

EssentialHummus Fri 05-Aug-16 18:25:42

First contact her and say that you can't offer money but can get a shop (and a takeaway tonight) across to her - does she want it? Also ask her what her cooking situation is like - for example, if gas / elec is metered but hasn't been topped up, she won't be able to use what you buy.

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