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I’ve had men standing on the doorstep ready to cut off the electricity. I’ve often told the children to say I’m not in when I am, you know, this happens regularly with the milkman and things. I really hit a problem when I had my mother in hospital very ill. I couldn’t afford the fare, you know, to go and see her and pay for general housekeeping, so we lived on rice for a fortnight nearly. Things like sheets that need replacing and cups, you know, silly things like that, you just can’t go straight out and buy them …

As Barbara and countless others have found there is very little

that you as an individual can do to fight an economic and political system which treats one-parent families so shamefully. Perhaps the most practical thing you can do once you have picked up the pieces is to join with other people in similar circumstances to campaign about family poverty through groups like the National Council for One Parent Families or the Child Poverty Action Group. Much more public attention needs to be drawn to the fact that, although we pay lip-service to the importance of the family and the needs of children, our tax system actually penalizes families;18 welfare benefits are set at a level so low that most households with children who rely entirely on Supplementary Benefit have great difficulty in making ends meet even over a relatively short period.

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