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‘If you’re relying on a foodbank or a charity it doesn’t mean you’ve failed’


Laura

Laura hopes other parents can reach out for help and not feel ashamed (Picture: James Speakman/PA)

When Laura Maggs was struggling to put food on the table, she admits she felt a ‘very British’ pressure to ‘suffer in silence.’ 

Shopping lists were trimmed and even her children’s favourite fruit – strawberries – had to be taken off, due to sky-rocketing prices of groceries. The family went without other items deemed ‘luxury’, like meat, fish and sweet treats.

While they had never been well-off, suddenly Laura and her partner, Ryan, found themselves in a financial situation they’d never been in before.

It’s an issue facing families across the UK, with people turning to foodbanks, making difficult decisions about loved ones or even stealing to survive.

For Laura, 39, she’s seen the phrase ‘you shouldn’t have kids if you can’t afford them’ in internet comment sections.

‘It’s such a callous, unfeeling thing to say – and easy  to say when you have come from a position of financial security. Saying “it’s your own fault, you did this to yourself, how dare you complain about things you graciously get, if you worked harder this wouldn’t have happened” is a very draconian way of thinking. 

‘People can struggle with money for all sorts of reasons. Instead of passing judgment, we need to spend more time discussing feasible, workable, long term solutions as opposed to trying to avoid the blame or lay the blame.’

The cost of living crisis meant Laura and her family had to make drastic changes to their shopping list
(Picture: Getty Images)

Before she fell into financial difficulty, Laura, had enjoyed a ‘normal’ childhood and was ‘ticking along’ as an adult, despite being from a low-income family. She worked as a playworker in a local primary school and her partner Ryan was a personal trainer and strongman, gearing up for England’s Strongest Man qualifiers. 

But despite their two salaries, putting food on the table each week still required a bit of mental mathematics.

Laura, who has an 18-year-old, six-year-old and three-year-old, adds: ‘In 2019 we were living with relatives, trying to save up for a place of our own, so things weren’t easy. I’d heard other mums chat about some sort of project called the Bread and Butter Thing and, being from a low income family, I thought it sounded like a good idea.’

The initiative Laura had learned about centred on a group of mobile food clubs which bring nutritious and affordable food into communities with less access to money, food and resources. From 2018, Laura would finish work and go collect three bags of food, £8.50 in total, from the charity’s Sale Moor hub, for herself and her parents. 

She admits it was a huge relief from cooking bland meals ‘because she had to’, to being able to use fresh vegetables, herbs and new ingredients in the kitchen.

‘It wasn’t just the food, it was also the mental and emotional knowledge that you’re going to be okay that week,’ Laura adds.

When the Covid pandemic hit, the Bread and …read more

Source:: Metro

      

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