Covid: Single mum eats one meal a day so her children can have three

Shannon Dakin finds feeding her family a daily struggle.

She has two young sons, and her teenage brother who has autism also lives with them.

She lost her job as an apprentice nursery worker at the start of lockdown, and, although she receives Universal Credit, now often has to go without meals herself, so the rest of her family can eat.

It's just making sure that the kids have got enough to eat, rather than myself.

She has £30-£35 a week to spend on food, and over the winter was forced to turn to relatives and charities for some help with food, energy bills, and the children's clothes.

She balances the budget by preparing simple main meals like noodle sandwiches, which will fill them up.

I've been quite upset, it's had me down. I've been so used to being able to feed the children, and do normal stuff that normal parents would do, but during the pandemic and since being made redundant it's been difficult, and I have struggled.

Shannon Dakin

Child poverty has dramatically risen since the start of the pandemic.

Increase in free school meal take up in the East Midlands
Increase in free school meal provision in the West Midlands

It really has pushed families to breaking point, we are seeing heart-breaking stories day in day out. We've got children sleeping on floors, children who don't have warm clothes to wear. Covid-19 has particularly hit families on low incomes, and ultimately children.

Sue McEniff, Charity Link

The Government says it's "consistently taken action" over the last twelve months to support the lowest-paid families - spending billions on job safeguarding and welfare. Over the winter, there were £45 million in grants given out to the Midlands. Families will also get financial help during the school holidays.

Academics at Loughborough University believe the divisions in society revealed by the pandemic mean there could be a change in attitudes as lockdown eases.

I think there are many ways in which this pandemic has actually made us reflect more on how we're supporting each other as a society. And this very divisive language of saying is it people who are who are scrounging off the state, and, every time somebody who needs help, being treated with suspicion - I hope we can put that behind us.

- Prof Donald Hirsch, Loughborough University

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