I am Aneita, a single working mum to one child aged 7.
When lockdown was confirmed, I felt OK. I was quite happy that my job was secure, and I finally had the flexibility I had always wanted in a job. But I never imagined in my wildest dreams it would be under these circumstances and I would be having to educate my daughter as well.
The first few weeks were difficult, trying to work and at the same time help my daughter with her work. I cried many times, felt my stress levels rising. I have felt every emotion. But what I have found most striking is the loneliness. I live in a city on a busy road. I have a phone. Yet the silence is deafening sometimes. Unfortunately, the thoughts in your head are loud and they can drag you down, if you let them. You feel you have become the forgotten, no one is checking in on you. It scares me how many parents and children are being forgotten right now
The spirit and resilience required to stay afloat
I understand the worry of money. I was working full time for the NHS but decided to change my job before my daughter started school. I’d done my calculations and thought I could make my budget work, but with no warning my tax credit support from the government was stopped. I was told I had had my year’s entitlement.
Just like that I was brushed aside and forgotten. I struggled on for a year without applying for Universal Credit because I had heard about the horror stories of waiting five weeks for a payment, being plunged further into debt. Eventually I applied because I had nothing more to lose – I had already been plunged into the nightmare of a debt relief order, foodbank visits, begging the local council social fund for £30 to buy my daughter winter shoes.
I can save myself, I have enough spirit and resilience to shout, to act on, to think how I can change my situation, and I have the fire in me to make that happen. But in times like these not everyone has the strength or the means.
A lifeline to keep rising above
I want every parent and child to know I have not forgotten them, I think about them, I want them to feel they are an important part of this society and that people do care. They deserve to buy decent clothes and eat decent food – and it shouldn’t always just be ‘donated’. And their children have a right to an education.
£20 extra per week in Universal Credit would make the world of difference to many families, including for me and my daughter. It could mean the difference between being below the poverty line to just above it, giving them the fighting spirit to keep rising above.