We struggled, but kids are alright

Readers' letters | Published:

Oh Mr Flanagan you are so wrong. I have lived in what they now term as poverty. My husband was very poorly paid when he was in work but he was redundant many, many times as an unskilled worker.

There were no handouts at all as we had a mortgage, taken out when times were better and we were stuck with it or sell up and be in negative equity.

When I had paid all the bills out of my husband’s dole money (I was not entitled to anything as I had left work to look after our children as you did then), I had very little to buy food with. My children had no biscuits, no crisps, no cakes, no sweets, no ice cream off the ice cream man, no treats of any kind as other children had (which apparently is how they define children living in poverty now!). They never complained, they knew the score, we either bought those or proper food. But they never went without a meal however cheap it had to be.

Again I say We survived because we had been taught to stand on our own two feet. I watched my sister-in-law buy chops and joints of meat and knew they were far beyond anything we could afford. My kids never went on school trips, all their clothes were made by me or my mother.

I saved up the family allowance to buy their shoes, it was the only way I could afford them. We had no telephone, no central heating, hot water only when we had a bath. We only had a holiday because a friend owned a caravan which she let us have one week a year for free. We managed with difficulty to keep our very old car on the road so that my husband was able to travel to any job should he be able to get one and one of our parents would fill it up with petrol now and again.

Mr Flanagan, I am not talking about when everyone lived like this, I am talking about when other people had full pantries and store cupboards. I saw their kids with bikes, computers, colour televisions, stood at the school gate in tears and watched my kids having to go into another class while their friends were on a school trip.

But my kids have not suffered in any way at all from this upbringing. They’re both doing very nicely thank you because they know that the only way to get what you want is to go out and get it yourself., no body ain’t gonna do it for you!

Jenny James, Wordsley


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