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From: The Socialist issue 1117, 20 January 2021: Make the super-rich pay, not the poorest

Search site for keywords: Lockdown - School - Food - Benefits - Poverty

Life in lockdown - being home from school when you're poor is hard

Child home schooled

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.

Food

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.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our Fighting Fund.

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Food keywords:

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Article dated 20 January 2021

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Leicester picket on the 21st strike day (22nd Feb) of around 7,000 British Gas engineers.  They are fighting against

Leicester picket on the 21st strike day (22nd Feb) of around 7,000 British Gas engineers. They are fighting against 'fire and rehire' - designed to worsen terms and conditions. Photo by Steve Score, Leicester Socialist Party

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