With schools across the UK closed to all students apart from those from families of key workers, parents are suddenly having to provide extra food for their youngsters who are now at home all day. The prospect of facing weeks, possibly months, with children off school due to the coronavirus outbreak is daunting for most parents. But for those struggling financially, the future looks particularly stark. Before the outbreak of Covid-19, figures showed almost one in every three children in the UK to be living in poverty, but the escalating situation is forcing desperate families to choose between feeding their children and paying their bills.
Single mum Hannah Graham was “staggered” by how much food her children managed to consume while being off school.
“I have already discovered how hard it is going to be to provide food for my children during lockdown.” she told HuffPost UK. “I knew we would get through a lot more food as there would be an extra 10 meals to provide during the week. But the sheer volume of what they had eaten by Tuesday was staggering. They emptied the cupboards and there was nothing left as they had eaten all the snacks and food.” She says it made her realise how hard it would be to stay financially afloat during the outbreak. “I am also very worried about how I will afford to feed them. I am planning each week at a time and trying not to think beyond that as it is too overwhelming. When you are a single parent and struggling for money, you cannot afford to stockpile and buy a couple of weeks of food at a time."
Helen Baker, 49, is a full-time carer for her seven-year-old son Sam who is autistic. She is concerned about their financial predicament and how they will afford to put food on the table as her husband Chris is a self employed taxi driver and the impact of coronavirus is already hitting their income hard.
“Now we are on lockdown, my husband is getting no taxi work at all,” she told HuffPost UK. “The measures in place for self employed people at the moment are abysmal as all they can access is Universal Credit. My husband is trying to look for other ways of earning but we live in an economically deprived area and everyone is in the same position. I am worried about buying food and putting gas and electricity on the meter. We’re literally living hand-to-mouth and I am worried about running out of money and not being able to put food on the table or how long it will be before we get Universal Credit. I am struggling mentally and trying not to panic. But it’s difficult when you get up in the morning and worry about whether we’ll be able to buy bread or milk.”