On Monday morning I was both excited and proud to be able to attend an in person meeting with my local MP accompanied by a team member from CPAG. This was a continuing part of the London lobby day earlier this year.
We took along with us a copy of the zine booklet and some other information about the Changing Realities programme, along with some local child poverty statistics for the area I live in provided by CPAG. In my mind he showed a good interest in the situation that families face.
He also has clear thoughts on what the Liberal Democrats would like to help change, for example, Free School Meals for all school age children and an end to the child benefit cap.
There were also longer term changes that he would like to push for including social tarifs for utility bills. I hope that with all of our efforts being involved in Changing Realities can help bring around change for families living on a low income. Every single MP or member of this government should be looking at the work we are all doing together to help bring about this change without delay. So hopefully all is not yet lost.
As school is about to reopen, I am getting ready to register my son, who is just two years and a few months. Went to the school a few minutes ago to give them the requirements.
They are asking for £3 per day for school meals while child benefit is £2 per day, I am on benefits and I was surprised to see that all the Child benefit and more has to go for school meals. Why can't school meals be free?
I feel indifferent to the new school year.
I was invited to a transition meeting along with other parents to go through what would happen in the new school year. Which included information about trips and when they would be. I found that helpful as I know when to need extra money by, so it gives me time to save.
My daughter has decided she wants to go on packed lunches rather than school meals as she wasn’t keen on them, so that’s going to be an extra cost too but I’d rather make sure she eats than not.
But, I’m excited for all the new things she will learn this year.
How am I feeling about the new school year?
Our daughter is starting 6th form at her school in September. I am excited for her and she is very much looking forward to it. There are additional costs involved of course but our local council has extended the free school meals entitlement and when we get confirmation that will be one less financial worry. Most of the new uniform required has been covered by a uniform grant from the school which helps massively as 1 badged skirt and 1 school blazer = £89.50! We have also applied for a free bus pass for her which she can use at any time not just journeys to school. This is the most financial assistance we have ever received and it has made the summer holidays noticeably less stressful for me, for which I am very grateful. With a winter coat and shoes that still fit her, I feel I have 'got off lightly' this year.
Hiya the school uniform situation is getting me really down, as I'm not entitled to free school meals because I earn £6 over the threshold. Don't know how I'm going to make it work with cost of food going up again in September .
The break is too long for the children and should be shared out between seasons more time off at Christmas would be easier.
The pressure to take days out and the more food needed adds to the stress of financial poverty because there is on top the issue of new school uniform. People think that new school uniform has to be bought this is in your face in the shops and supermarkets which again adds to financial struggles. Schools and media should be encouraging parents to only buy if needed if uniform still fits don’t buy new, if you have uniform that’s in good condition that doesn’t fit pass it on.
I personally feel the summer break for some families is way too much, they are struggling with money already and 6 weeks of bored children nagging for sweets, days out, snacks, is not good on mental health when they simply cannot afford the demands the break brings. Then schools are sat empty when could be utilised for fun activities for families and lunches served to those struggling.
It would be interesting to know if foodbank use is higher in school holidays!
Hearing everyone's stories, the support has been a lifeline! We need this support for people and campaigns to make life better, FSM for all primary children across UK would be a great start, but universal basic income will also help and decent pay rises which value public sector and key workers who help others for a living.
Honestly, a little worried and stressed.
My family are now at the point where we don’t get free school meals however we don’t earn enough to cover everything and more.
There are a lot of things for children who receive free school meals to do- clubs that are free or at a small cost.
However they don’t provide for others or if they do it costs a lot more.
I’ve resulted in putting all 3 of my children into nursery for a small amount of time each week as I get 85% back on the bill next month and been paying for it before school holidays anyway. At least they get a chance to play with others and do fun activities.
I wish I could do more for them and as my partner is working and I don’t drive I’m limited to what I can do as travelling with a double pushchair is extremely difficult.
I'm lucky enough that one of my daughters is going off to her big sisters for four days through the holidays. So that not only saves me a bit of money because she's not around, but it also keeps her entertained for a little while. We have a holiday booked to go away for two weeks, which I could only afford because my eldest two daughters have chipped in and helped pay for the holiday, so we're kind of optimistically looking forward to it. We've got lots of free events planned and free museums and free galleries to visit just to keep my youngest busy. We also received a 90 pound voucher to buy her lunch during the school holiday as she's on free school meals.
It's really hard to plan for the future financially at the minute because there's no excess funds. I was on at the media recently and they asked this question how do you feel about the government telling people that they need to save now for the winter? Well, I just couldn't believe it because at the end of the day, people are already struggling. I'm affected by the 20 pound uplift already that was taken away a long time ago, also by the hunger payments for free school meals. And literally there are no extra funding and no extra money. So how are people supposed to think about the future when they're just being forced and plunged into thinking about the now and the then and here and the now? It's literally crazy that even the government have these expectations of people to start saving now for even the winter. I mean, you can't. And with the lack of hunger payments for the free the people entitled to free school meals, I'm really struggling this summer and it's only going to get worse.
I'm worried already that I move my child schools because of his additional needs, but he's not that high up in the spectrum in order to get transportation help. So now I'm going to have this extra money every month that I don't even know where I'm getting it from, but I keep him in a school that doesn't cater for his needs because I can't afford to send them on a bus, or do I go on a bus with them and just suffer the consequences of the amount of money that it's going to cost? I'm not even laughing and saying this, but people are going to have to sell kidneys. You can't think of the future because there's just not enough money to go around and.
It's really difficult to deal with additional school costs because already the uniform is so expensive. And anybody that says that just because your child is entitled free school meals, their school is free, it's not. So not only do you have stationery costs, et cetera, but the trips, the school trips in June were horrendous because over in Northern Ireland there were budget cuts. It meant that something that would have cost £3 cost £15. We're talking about a free trip to the museum, which is free. The museum is free to get into the Ulster Museum in Belfast. But the cost of the transportation was £10 which I thought was horrific because it's a bus and therefore I did not know what to do. But I have to do it because then my child would feel like he wasn't valuable or that he felt different or he didn't feel worthy enough to go on this trip. I just can't believe the astronomical cost. The schools used to be able to fund part fund. Then my daughter had an attendance trip, which is amazing. She's in secondary school, my son's in primary school, and again it was, oh, your child has won an award because they have an attendance trip. And yet it was so expensive. The bus was the same price as what my son's bus was, but they were like 3 hours away. My daughter and my son was only in the center of Belfast, about 15 minutes away, so I paid for that. And then they needed like, costs for getting on all the rides off the Fun Park. So these extra costs, of course, they're not compulsory, as in don't send your child in the trip, but then your child is the only one that's not going on trip. So then what do you do? So I'm not really coping well, to be honest, with the extra costs. And there's hidden costs everywhere. Like, my son can't eat certain foods and on those days I have to give him pack lunches.
Freaking out now as it’s only week 1 out of 8 weeks of a summer and my children are bored. There’s nothing to do. Budget cuts cut out summer schemes my children would normally have attended. It’s scary. Free school meals hunger payments ceased this summer. It’s horrendous. Poorer getting poorer. Children suffering.