Victoria B on 28 November 2021
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Q. With these new changes to Universal Credit coming in, what do you think about this focus on helping working families?
I think what upsets me most about these changes is not that it doesn't help my family, even though we're in our lowest amount I've been faced with since having kids and I'm scared but somehow just about managing. I won't let my kids go hungry and every product I have isn't going to waste (eg making Xmas decorations out of food containers, etc), I'm skipping most meals but kids are fed and warm and safe and that's what matters most to me right now. No, what upsets me most about this targeted support for working families is how it's portrayed in the media and public spheres. "Millions of families better off" "millions to see up to £1500 benefit boost" "benefit boost for hard working families". It denies the suffering of families who aren't or can't work, while gov can say "well if they work they get, not our fault they're not working" it's punishing the poor, it's punishing the unworking/unable to work groups within a community by making our children suffer and then saying it's our fault. Years ago I had to make a choice between staying with an abusive husband who regularly hurt my children to punish me, or running with my kids and turning to the state for support. Anytime I talk to a potential employer I have to explain that I can't put my photo or name on any of their websites or publications, to prevent ex from finding us, and that I'd need flexible hours to work around the mental health trauma for me and my kids. No employer wants to hire me. And it's not discrimination to refuse to hire someone cos of being a victim of DV. My kids need me to focus on them, help them grow and heal, but instead I have to focus on job searching and food n bill worries, so we don't get sanctioned. Some days I just want to give up, but I don't, I keep going everyday for my kids. For them to grow up loved as that's all I can offer them. And we're punished for my not working, my kids know what hunger feels like because the gov wants me to work and no one hires me so that's somehow my fault. While my ex gets to live his life freely and we live trapped and scared and hungry. But media and gov and the public at large, don't care, to them me and others like me are just lazy, not hard working enough, entitled. It's cruel. All children should be protected from poverty, from the trauma that leaves them into adulthood. When will we, as a nation, get past this outdated notion that poverty is some kind of choice. I see the people around me, families who also struggle similar to me and I feel sad and angry and tired. I see hungry mums and dads skipping meals to feed their kids, parents with holes in their shoes to make sure their kids have shoes and socks in this weather. Parents fighting their hopelessness and fears everyday to be supportive and loving to their kids. That's hard work. It's hard to feel anything when one is hungry and scared. To feel love, to feel selfless love when hungry and cold and scared takes a great deal of strength, takes a lot of work. How do others look at us and see laziness? How do people see kids shaking and think "well parents shouldn't have had em then"?
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