How to unlock poverty for mums like Lianne

One mum in Sheffield tells of her holiday hunger struggles, and a wonderful local project that helps

The Parson Cross Initiative in Sheffield works in and with its community to improve lives.  Here, local resident Lianne shares her story, and tells of the impact of holiday hunger.

I’ve been coming here on and off for four months. I took the kids to a play day here, and that’s how I found out about it. They’re good here. Sometimes in the week, if I have been struggling and I have run out of milk or something, they will help me out.

There’s all sorts here. I come on Tuesdays after school for a kids’ play day, and sometimes in the holidays they do fun days with bouncy castles, and most Fridays we come. Sometimes Citizens Advice have been here too to help with things.

I use the food bank most of the time here. My benefits are all over the place. I am on Jobseeker’s Allowance. I get £72 a fortnight at the moment for me and my two kids, who are nine and eight. I have deductions for rent, for council tax, for an over-payment from before. It’s a struggle, but I have my mum to help me as well. What you can get depends where you go shopping but with my deductions it’s difficult.

They should not take as much off you as they do. It helps here, a real, real lot. If this place was not here, oh God I don’t know what I would do. If you don’t have a referral, you can only get a weekend pack.

I am always going without so the kids can eat. We went to Lidl and I had promised the kids a pound, and I only had a fiver left, but I let them have their pounds. I only really eat porridge, and I went without buying that, but my mum will help me.

In the holidays, the kids were bored. Finding things to do that do not cost owt was difficult. The schools did some fun days and church did, but only a couple of times. A lot of days they were bored to death in the house; there should be more things to do. And when they are at school, I do not have to buy extra food. I would rather they have a cooked meal at school and if we are short, we can have sandwiches later. They only thing we all have is stew, with corned beef.

Learn more about the work of the Parson Cross Initiative in this short video:

Something to deal with holiday hunger would definitely help. Before the holidays they had a week’s worth of things you could book to do but it was one week and it was first come, first served. It’s hard and he is always hungry.

Going back years ago, when I had my eldest. He’s 21 now, but going back, I remember we had no money and all we had was some bread and beans. There was enough for him and he asked if I was not having any of it. I said I was not hungry and he was trying to share it with me, it was heart-breaking.

What could the Government  do? I don’t know. Give us more. I have £72 to last us a fortnight. If I had the full amount it would be £140. It’s not huge but it’s a lot better than £72. I spend a lot of time with my mum and she wouldn’t let us be without, but it should be me who’s doing it.

The bigger picture

Lianne’s experience is similar to that of millions of parents around the country. A recent YouGov poll found that one in four parents has skipped meals, and one in eight has gone a whole day without food. All over the UK, parents are going without food so their children don’t have to, trying to loosen the chains of poverty in their own home.

And, most often, people use food banks because of problems with their benefits. 

The Parson Cross Initiative is typical of the community-led work happening in many towns and cities. Such projects and venues give amazing support to people who need it, but such support is inevitably sporadic and piecemeal across the country as a whole.

It doesn’t needn’t be like this. We can all help to unlock the poverty trap in Sheffield and elsewhere. How? Here’s a start… The End Hunger UK campaign sets out nine potential Government policies, all of which would help to reduce hunger and poverty. Proposals include programmes in every part of the country to reduce holiday hunger, and a review of welfare safety nets to ensure they are fit for purpose. Why not take a look at the nine ideas, contact local groups working to alleviate poverty in your area, and speak to your MP? 

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