As I write, I’m aware my thoughts may not be as clear or concise as they could be; I have two children at home distracting me.
I got involved with COVID Realities, honestly, because the project offers £10-20 gift cards for each month I’m involved (and for some extra activities, like writing this blog) and the reward of a voucher for simply telling someone about my life seemed like "an easy job". As life was seemingly starting to return back to normal and the usual expenses were stacking up, the thought of a shopping voucher which could help towards treating my children was incredibly tempting.
Having learnt more about the project by reading about other people’s lives, I understand just how important it is that the rest of the world is given the opportunity to understand how the effects of the pandemic have simply magnified what has already been a huge issue for so many of us. I think a lot of people live rather blinkered lives and unless they're affected by certain issues, they just have no idea about the impact for others. I would like to think the project can be used as an opening for bigger conversations that could be had to lobby the government about tackling the underlying issues that cause people to live in poverty. But I will be honest, I do not see changes happening under a Tory government, their legacy of the last ten years backs up this thinking of mine.
I'm finding the project convenient to be involved with. The expectation to post diary entries and comments is reasonable – four in the first month for a £20 gift card, just one for each subsequent month to receive £10 – and the opportunity to be involved with zoom discussions every month or so for a further £20 card isn't overwhelming.
I think challenging poverty matters because it is still a taboo that creates lots of barriers for the people experiencing it. Poverty affects a lot of people across a whole spectrum, quite often many would never have expected to be in the situation they are. Perhaps life has thrown incidents their way which have impacted financially (relationship breakdown, lost job, health problems to name just a few). Poverty can occur for any of us at any time - better awareness of this possibility could help remove any barriers that might exist preventing people from seeking help and support.
It's so important to include the voices and experiences of those with direct experiences of living on a low income because no one can have any idea about the impacts unless they've gone through it themselves. It's important to know that, despite our financial situation, we are still valued members of society who have a lot to contribute regardless of what our bank balance says.