Ever since the Government voted against extending free school meals last week I have been churned up with a horrible mix of guilt and gratitude, rage and frustration and the constant question of What can we do…? How can we help?
Ever since I started working with children and young people my mantra has been; if it’s not good enough for my kids, it’s not good enough and so the idea that any child should be allowed to go hungry is unthinkable for me; and thankfully, for the vast majority of others. Almost as soon as the news broke cafes across the country took to social media to invite anyone that needed support to contact them confidentially and that food would be provided no questions asked. Compassion and empathy in action, it warmed my heart but I still couldn’t shake the sadness that it had to come to this in the first place; why don’t the Government understand the situation that some people are in?
And then I remembered all of the questions and holier than thou statements that I endured when I was working with families at risk and I remembered that some people like to blame and pigeon hole and keep their distance from the reality because it makes them feel uncomfortable and, once you open the pandoras box of how has it come to this, you realise that there is a hell of a lot of work to do to level things up and perhaps that’s just not on their agenda.
Take for example my day yesterday:
I drove my girls to their drama class meaning that I then had 3.5 hours child free and we all had a break from each other.
I had the luxury of a run with my husband- we discussed plans for the week, caught up on each others news and enjoyed some kid free time in the fresh air. HEAD SPACE.
I was able to write a meal plan and a shopping list and drive to the supermarket without them so I was spared all of the ‘can we have…can we have’ pestering.
I was able to buy the biggest, best value bag of pasta knowing that not only did I have space to store it when I got home but that I could also take it from trolley to car, not have to lug it home or carry it on the bus and up 5 flights of stairs at the other end.
I was able to check the bargain aisle knowing that I have a freezer that I can afford to switch on and isn’t just an ice compartment at the top of a fridge so I can batch cook and freeze ahead and make the most of what’s on special offer.
I was able to arrive at the till without having mentally calculated what I could afford all the way round or feel the panic and anxiety as each item it beeped through.
If you’re living on benefits or you’re a low-income family almost all of that is off the table for you. It is a different world with less time, headspace, less fuel, less everything really and it is such a hard hard situation to claw your way out of. If you think I’m exaggerating for effect watch Channel 4’s Dispatches Growing up Poor, watch I Daniel Blake. This is real life. This isn’t a level playing field by any stretch of the imagination so, this really, really isn’t about who provides some crisps and butties for a week. It is about making sure that people understand that we aren’t all starting from the same position and making allowances for that. It is about caring enough to understand why 1.4 million children desperately need these meals in the first place and figuring out what services and scaffolding and care is needed to support those in need when OR- better still, provide the opportunities so that less people are in that position because YES Philip Davies MP, I absolutely agree that parents should primarily be responsible for feeding their children and they are desperate to but until that time, thank god for all of those who understand that if it’s not good enough for their kids, it’s not good enough. THE END.
This post isn’t as articulate as I’d like and there are a trillion other things that I’d like to mention that contribute to this debate but they’ll have to wait- for now the most important thing is that those who need support get it and anyone that feels able to offer support whether that is financial, practical or emotional steps forward
Here is a list of the organisations providing free lunches- please do check on their social pages incase booking is needed or you have to make contact in advance.
Zero Clucks Given
No 7 Café
PRENTON & TRANMERE:
Tilly Mint Treats
Born & Bred Coffee Shop
Nemesis Coffee Shop
Bella Rose Hair & Beauty
Cathy’s hot & cold takeaway
The Bedford ‘Luke’s’
Stanley’s Seaview Road
Village Fish & Chips
The Lighthouse Inn
Little Bear Fudgery
Bake My Day
The Stonehouse Cafe
The Green Hut
BEBINGTON & SPITAL :
Muzzy’s Breakfast House
Yankies Sweets and Treats
Our Coffee Shop
HESWALL, PENSBY & THURSTASTON
Flissy’s Coffee Shop at GJ’s
Fine Fruits Direct
WEST KIRBY & HOYLAKE
Hectors Sandwich Shop
Nine Leaves Tea Lounge
The Grange – Moreton
The Village Cafe – Bromborough
Number 7 Cafe – Birkenhead
LISCARD, SEACOMBE & NEW BRIGHTON:
Remember When Wirral
The Willow Tree
Seacombe Social Club
If you are in a position to support this cause there are several ways that you can donate:
Supporting Wirral Food Bank– set up your own reverse advent calendar to make sure that no one goes without this Christmas
Check out Wirral support during COVID which is gathering gifts and donations to support anyone in need at this time
Follow Frank Fields Facebook page which regularly updates with details of where to access support or where you might be able to donate or volunteer your help
Donate to the crowd funder set up by Jamie from Wylde to enable the cafes listed above to continue to support families across this half term and if necessary beyond.
A friend of mine Sam has also set up a fundraising page and suggests that if you ‘Ate out to Help out’ but could have paid the full price, you donate the saving back to support those that need it.
Sending all of the half term heroes lots of love.
Keep doing what you can, keep being kind and look after you too.