A problem shared…

I meet with some parents from Joshua’s school every month these days, at a café close to Joshua’s daycare facility. So I drop him off by 10am, then I go onto the café. I was last there yesterday morning, as I had a few things to tell and ask the daycare staff. There were 5 Mums and one Dad there when I arrived, all set up with hot drinks and various brunch items. I said hello then fetched my mug of tea and mushrooms on toast and joined them.

It is an informal gathering of adults who all share one thing in common – we all have ,or had, a child at the same Special School and we became friendly at my coffee mornings and have remained friends. It is such a valuable group as we all share what is going on in our lives, not necessarily with our children. Today the issues that were covered, included :

  • How do I open a bank account for my child?
  • Do I need to get Power of Attorney for my child when they are older?
  • Does anyone have any tips for how to handle my son’s meltdowns when he gets violent towards me? Should I fight back?
  • What help can I get for my son’s mental health?
  • How are you going to cope during the long summer school holidays? using the school dinner vouchers during the holidays to help with rising food costs.
  • I have a PA (personal assistant but no funds yet) or I have the budget but cannot find a PA to suit my needs
  • Why does nobody return my calls? I am still waiting to hear back from Social Worker/School/Choices & Rights….

Nobody is the expert in our group, we just share each other’s opinions and experiences, and hopefully there is some valuable input, but if not, there are still sympathetic ears. We stay in the café, without getting moved on for a couple of hours so it is a great place to meet.

But yesterday, a crying lady with a baby at the adjacent table caught our attention and we were united in our concern for her : she was a single mother with three young children and a recovering drug addict. While she has a council house, so she is not homeless, she has no money until she receives her benefits in early July. She was crying as she did not know how to feed her children. She had been to a foodbank but had received a loaf of mouldy bread and was distraught . She had been to the authorities to ask for help but as she had a home and was no longer using drugs, they had told her that there was nothing they could do. She was genuine and in a desperate state, so we helped her out as best we could : some of us gave her some money, one Mum gave her the contact details of a charity that could help with clothes and food for her children and I gave her the homemade shortbread that I had made for the Mums. She gave me a hug in return. This level of poverty should not be allowed to happen in 2022 , there has to be some formal assistance that she can access, surely. But this morning, hopefully we made her feel a little better by listening to her story and offering her what help we could. It will not sustain her until the start of July, for sure, but maybe a couple of days at least. But we know that she is not an isolated case, there are families throughout the UK struggling in this way and we need to do whatever we can to help them.

We had been discussing our problems and worries together, but compared to this Mum who did not know where her next meal was going to come from, we had no real big problems that could not be overcome. I was proud of how our small group should concern and empathy and stepped in to help, where some people may not even have asked why she was crying. Lets do what we can to help everyone in food poverty…

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