The Socialist 20 January 2021 |
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Life in lockdown - being home from school when you're poor is hard
Child home schooled (Click to enlarge)
Lizzy Hedderly, College student, Greenwich, south London
At the beginning of the first lockdown, in my house, we had one computer for three students and a parent working from home. Myself and my siblings receive pupil premium and free school meals.
I live in a single-parent household with a mum who is a student and completing voluntary work with the NHS for her psychotherapist diploma. Both of my younger brothers have special educational needs and have been attending school during this current lockdown.
When you have no money, the constant changing guidance and rules become more difficult to adjust to. If your family's income is not secure, the prospect of having everyone at home at all times has real implications.
How could they say it is as easy as just switching to online learning, when, as a young carer, I have to share the increased challenges in having my brothers at home?
A confused feeling of guilt is always around me and my mum - the feeling that you are always doing something wrong when you are being told you are never doing enough.
There have been moments of relief. The scheme to provide laptops to those without meant we had another computer in the house, and I now no longer work from my phone like in the first lockdown.
The food vouchers we receive in replacement of our free school meals more than double our food budget, and are genuinely something we get excited about every two weeks.
I have strong feelings about the MPs who voted against the expansion of the scheme into school holidays. I waited for them to put forward a better, more effective short-term solution for the increase in food poverty, but of course that never came.
They ignore issues like wages and benefits being spread out across the month, as is the case with my family. It makes it impossible to save money through a large weekly or monthly shop.
Sometimes you can have what other people have. You can buy cost ineffective but healthy food like strawberries. The vouchers meant that we had a Christmas dinner that was more than the bare minimum.
But the threshold for access to these benefits is too low, and doesn't factor in increased costs like energy bills from everyone being at home.