Fuzz Dix is a Kids Matter Facilitator at St Luke’s Millwall on the Isle of Dogs in Tower Hamlets, one of the city’s most deprived boroughs (with 57 percent of children judged to be living in households in poverty). Fuzz has been running Kids Matter groups for many years and is a major support to many families in her community. Here, she writes about how Covid-19 impacted mums, dads, carers and children in Tower Hamlets…
At our foodbank we regularly encounter families living in dire overcrowding – two adults, three children in a one-bed flat; two adults, two children in a bedsit (son with autism); three generations living together sharing sofa for sleeping in shifts; two adults, two children in one room in a house share.
In lockdown 3.0 we are offered our Family Room at church to individual families to come for one hour, by themselves, to give them: space to play, different toys to enjoy and time out of their cramped conditions. One mum of four said, ‘Thank you for this, it’s given me a chance to focus on my kids again instead of just how to cope with everyone at home.’
Another mum who visits our Family Room is parenting alone and is living off her furloughed minimum wage but as she’s a waitress, usually relies on tips to top up her income so now does not have enough money. She is barely covering her rent and bills, and comes along to our foodbank so that she is able to feed her family.
Today I visited a mum who did Kids Matter online during Lockdown 1.0, to give her a belated Christmas bag of treats, and she said, ‘I’m doing much better this time round; I’ve realised we need a proper routine and I’m trying to make sure we stick to it. And I think I’m learning some maths as well!’
I am in contact a single mum (of three kids) who has done Kids Matter twice. Her baby turned 2 at the weekend so I door-step visited with flapjacks today and she said, ‘I think I’m losing my mind. I need time by myself and I don’t know how to get it’ – but wants to commit to figuring it out. She has support from another Kids Matter graduate who is able to occasionally watch her kids so I encouraged her to get out by herself if she can.
We have had several church members, and many local friends, who have lost family members to Covid-19 – our community is heart-broken and exhausted; I bumped into our local councillor last week and she said to me, ‘Your church has transformed that estate. You are like a beacon of light shining in the darkness.’