A helping hand…

At a time when benefits have been reduced due to the removal of uplift due to Covid and energy prices going through the roof, times are hard for many families across the country. However, since my eldest daughter started school, I have been fortunate to have benefited from a helping hand from the local council.

I didn’t even know that I qualified for the help that I have received which first came in the form of a food voucher to cover October half term. I had previously seen many people complain about food vouchers and how £15 barely covered the cost of meals. (The voucher is meant to help cover the cost of 5 school meals). However, I felt lucky to receive the voucher and it certainly made a difference.

I then got an email from school telling me that I was entitled to apply for a winter payment to help towards the cost of winter clothing, food, and heating. Again, I wasn’t expecting this and so it was a pleasant surprise, particularly when I got told that I was eligible for this payment. Admittedly you could argue that this payment wouldn’t buy a winter coat, or a pair of shoes let alone pay for a month’s heating but it’s a lot better than nothing and so much more than I expected (which was nothing).

What put a lump in my throat was when I read an email letting me know that the council were providing free theatre tickets to the pantomime for certain families and I was able to book tickets for myself, my Mum and both my girls. These tickets would have cost nearly £100 and so I wouldn’t have been able to take them to see a pantomime this year which I was ok about as I know there are lots of other things you can do that aren’t as expensive. However, this was such a touching and heart-warming surprise and something that we are all looking forward to seeing.

Finally, before the Christmas holidays I was sent a message to say that there was a food parcel waiting for me to pick up from school. I did find this harder as I have never used a food bank as I know that there are people worse off than myself but they had been specifically delivered for myself (and other families in similar situation) and so I collected it.

I was proud of myself for having the courage to do this as well as stand on the school playground with my collection knowing that all the other parents may judge as they saw me with my food parcel.

However, I have spent many years being judged and see others being judged which is something that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I know that we all judge (myself included) but I am a firm believer that we do not need to act on our thoughts let alone voice our opinions. Fortunately, no one did say anything but if they had then I would have judged them for doing so (but wouldn’t have said anything).

All these gestures have been greatly appreciated and have all made a real difference. I tend to live by the mantra of never expecting anything and then if you do get something then it is a nice surprise, rather than expecting things and being disappointed if nothing comes of it.

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