When I was offered the opportunity to take part in Covid Realities I was unsure what to expect, but soon I found it very helpful to be aware that there are a lot of other families in similar circumstances, who have been sharing their experiences on the website. It helps me to be able to put down my views and write about my experiences anonymously, which is what taking part involves. I had for a long time felt I was not able to look after my daughter due to money worries and not being able to give her the same opportunities as some of her school friends.
When my partner left the family home the money I had available to support myself and my daughter dropped considerably but as a single father suffering from mental health issues I found it very hard to get any information on what help may be available and how to access it. My daughter was attending an after school club that was offering online groups and it was here that they kindly offered to refer us to a local food bank. This one thing has made a huge difference to our lives.
I have always been a private person and do not have a wider family to be able to ask for help, when it became clear that there was a virus circulating in the world I started to avoid leaving home as much as possible.
Then came lockdown, trying to find fresh healthy food became not only difficult due to shortages in shops but with even a small reduction in money I was struggling to buy enough food for us to survive on. A local food bank has been a huge help to us but even now I am unable to buy her a new school blazer or a coat for myself as winter approaches.
The COVID pandemic has bought a great deal of attention to the problem of poverty and the effect it has on families. Until now a lot of people felt it was certain groups or areas that were affected but the current situation has affected families from all groups and areas of society.
I am hoping that the project will make the government and others realise that poverty is a real problem in society and that the money and help that is given to people in need is far from enough, it should be far easier to access help and information on what help there is available both nationally and in local areas.