The dogs next door barked so much during the lockdowns, we thought we would go mad.
When the news arrived, that we were to be locked down due to a pandemic, we were already in crisis. Years of austerity and the benefit cap were affecting a huge number of us before the pandemic came.
That’s the reason I was in touch with Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and came to be included as a participant in the Covid Realities Project, a body of work researching and tracking the reality for families on a low income during the pandemic. York University, Birmingham University and CPAG are the core partners of this absolutely life changing project.
I am a single mum on benefits, and financially, this is the worst place I have ever occupied as a human being and in particular, a mum. I already needed top-up benefits before the pandemic, despite working. I had a part-time job because I had little support with childcare and couldn’t sustain a full-time position. Not all of us receiving benefits are not working. What a poor situation that is, morally.
It makes you sick, poverty, your body suffers. Your relationship with food changes because you are eating only to stay alive. You turn the heating down, but no amount of clothing can stave off the agonising nature of cold. The way I wake in pain and hearing my young son say that he’s freezing, is a repetitive experience I will never forget. I became very ill during the pandemic and I have only just had Covid. It isn’t Covid that made me sick.
I didn’t choose poverty. None of us do. It is hard to face the painful truth that people are going hungry and freezing in one of the richest nations on Earth and that is set to get much worse in the coming months.