I am a community activist have been since the age of 15 ( now 41) I do work in my community the vice chair of the community Association and also a school governor.
Since the start of the pandemic we have been super busy with food surplus, and food hamper deliveries at the time thinking it would not be for long how wrong were we. Every day nearly something crops up and we’ve not had a full weekend off since March .....if I’m honest we are exhausted but won’t quit as our community needs us.
I’ve come Across many people and families over the years heard all the usual perceptions people have But lately I’ve discovered that one perception a lot have is the thought that people from other countries are given everything, housing, handouts , money ect This perception , stigma or whatever it is called is totally and utterly wrong! And here is how I know.
Just over a year ago our estate manager brought a family who had been given a flat on the estate to our community hub, The family were very isolated especially the mum who had not long before had come from Gambia .... we have helped the family lots and through the hub I’ve become very good friends with the mum. I’ve learnt about their culture , how very different it is to ours but have loved learning from them and teaching them our English ways.
The mum struggles with money and just recently I found out they do not get any tax credits / universal credit. I’ve helped them with food throughout the pandemic and just recently after them having a new baby I’ve had to spend my own money on things they needed for the baby.
The dad works has done for 9 years, he pays for an older child he had in a previous marriage, he sends some money to Gambia ( it’s wrong but obviously their tradition) on top of this they have full rent, full council tax and 3 children to care for, the mum receives child benefit but that is all ....... They cannot get UC to top up their income as when the wife was allowed to come into the uk it was on the condition that she didn’t claim anything ......This in my eyes is wrong her husband works and pays into the system I know some folk who are from the uk who have never worked it don’t make sense.
Two of the children were born in this country yet cannot have benefits, The family are very isolated especially as English is not their first language, I’ve been trying to get funding for the two year old for nursery but as they don’t get benefits this is proving difficult .... This situation has really opened my eyes to the struggles people face and how Covid has made the vulnerable and isolated more vulnerable , more disconnected and very lonely...... it truly makes me wonder how many are they out there in the same position as this family. "