Imagine having to choose between turning on the heating, buying food or getting your child a school uniform. These are some of the impossible choices faced by people on a low income. Instead of receiving support that helps them create a better life, the welfare system keeps people trapped. Worse still, people on low incomes are seen as the culprits, being cast as lazy and unwilling to work.
In this episode, we speak with participants Brian and Caroline and researcher Katie from the Covid Realities research project in the UK. We hear first-hand about the challenges of living on little, and what needs to change.
The Covid Realities research project began in April 2020 just after the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the UK went into lockdown. The research works with people on low income to understand what it is like to live on little during a pandemic and at a time when normal life comes to a halt. Parents and carers were asked to get involved and document their everyday realities through diary entries and virtual discussion groups. It brought to light the struggle of living on a low income when it isn’t possible to go into work, when children have to learn from home and when you’re not allowed to meet socially.
As we are entering yet another wave of Covid infections in the UK, challenges for those on low incomes seem only to intensify. Rising prices and lack of support mean that Caroline and Brian are as trapped as they ever were, and they have little hope of the cycle breaking any time soon. They want politicians to stop talking and spring into action.
If the issues discussed in this episode resonate with you and you would like to get involved with the research, for example by sharing diary entries, find out more here.