Voices: It’s a struggle being poor

In the first ‘Voices’ that Social Work Shorts would like to bring you this is a testimony from a 38-year-old single mum living in the South of England and is taken from the insightful collection of illuminating and much needed writing in a book created by Dominic Watters (Twitter @SingleDadSW).

You can find the book at this link. 

It’s a struggle being poor

I’m a Dutch national of African descent and single mother of two boys. I have been living and working in the United Kingdom for the past 15 years. I was in a tumultuous relationship for nine years which resulted in my children and myself being made homeless. We were initially placed in a hostel for eight weeks in another borough before my local council rehoused us into a temporary one bed council complex, where we were placed with families who faced similar circumstances that I’ve been experiencing. After three years, I’m currently still waiting to be housed into my permanent place.

I’ve worked at Gatwick Airport for the past 15 years and was made redundant due to the impact Covid had on the airport. During lockdown, not only did I lose my job, my electricity and shopping expenses increased due to the kids being stuck indoors. Prior to when the government finally decided to introduce school meal provisions and the £20 Universal Credit top-up, I succumbed to using my credit card to provide for our basic needs. At times, I had to reach out to the local church for help with food and supplies.

Going through all this, I was also faced with the task of home-schooling my children in an overcrowded space and unable to engage in social activities which has been very challenging. This negative impact has definitely tested my boy’s mental health.

As if this hasn’t been stressful enough, I also endured racist abuse from my new next door neighbour’s boyfriend (they moved in during Covid) who referred to me as the N-word after a violent outburst in the middle of the night. I was both angry and scared for my children and I felt trapped in my own space. I reported this and he has been spoken to by the police. Although I hope this won’t happen again, he’s still there.

It is a real struggle having a narcissistic ex-partner who doesn’t pay child maintenance, myself not being financially secure. Living in half-way housing and trying to keep my sons unaffected has proved to be very testing for my own sanity at times but I’m pleased to say that I have found a new job as a teaching assistant at my boy’s primary school.

Snippet taken from the Social Distance in Social Work: COVID Capsule One

About Social Distance in Social Work: COVID Capsule One

A social work student facing eviction from his home and experiencing food insecurity authored this book in the hope that it could get his voice heard. As a single dad living in a council estate block of flats, Dominic @SingleDadSW lets the reader into an environment drenched in poverty. He invites some of the leading thinkers, practitioners, and people with lived experience of services to discuss the impact of the COVID crisis.

The COVID crisis made everyone aware of keeping their distance from other people because of health concerns, but SingleDadSW was reflecting on the distance between people due to poverty, culture, class, and other factors. Social Distance in Social Work: COVID Capsule One is both an action in the face of destitution, and a collection of notes from the crisis. A collection of pieces that he has curated to tell a story and capture a moment in time.

A book that discusses established and new approaches in Social Work:

  • • Social Justice & Social Distance
  • • Food Poverty & Food Insecurity
  • • Lived Experience & Living Experience
  • • Child Protection & Social Harms
  • • COVID Crisis & Crisis Capitalism
  • • Social Work During the Pandemic

Featuring all exclusive work by Ray Jones, Phil Watson, Brid Featherstone, Cal Webb, Gerry Nosowska, Simon Haworth, Lewis Roberts, Ian Gould and more… and includes a foreword by Ruth Allen, chief executive of BASW.

Book Endorsements

‘A stunning book right from the heart of exciting, newly emerging social work practitioners. At its core is a genuine commitment to the application of rights-based practice made possible by the authors personal, deep understanding of social justice and the impact of structural oppression of poverty.’

Rob Mitchell, principal social worker, co-author of ‘Social Work, Cats & Rocket Science

‘We are a human rights profession. But it can be hard to embed this into everyday practice. This book is a precious and creative contribution to understanding how we can do that.’

Ruth Allen, chief executive of the British Association of Social Work (BASW)

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