Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Being poor...

I CAME across an amazing and poignant piece here on John Scalzi's blog entitled Whatever Poor a few months ago and it struck me a lot.

We know of the poverty around us and I thought I would try to come up with my own Irish-angled list during this festive season which is an awful time of year for those who are living in poverty. I hope I do the original justice.

If you feel strongly enough about these issues, send Bertie Ahern an e-card as part of the ongoing Make Poverty History campaign or go one better and also take part in Barnardos’ gift appeal. Buy a toy and leave it at any AIB branch before December 16. One in seven Irish children live in poverty, why not make their Christmas.

Oh and check out the Barnardos Blog, is this the first blog of this type?

Being poor is…

when you are dependent on the Social Welfare’s €14 weekly Fuel Allowance to heat your home and it doesn’t last two days.

when pay day or social welfare payment day comes and you separate your money into piles leaving a small pile which leaves you overwhelmed at the prospect of making it stretch until you next get money.

when Budget Day comes with a minimal increase in Social Welfare payments and the increase is automatically deducted from your rent allowance payments, leaving you no better off at all.

when you know another mother on social welfare and you wonder enviously how she manages to clothe herself and child/ren so well.

when you dread bank holidays because all they mean to you is that you watch everyone else in the world going off to have fun, or so it feels.

when you cannot move from your flat even though there is no heating, no hot water and you share your flat with rodents, because you cannot even afford to live there really never mind move somewhere better.

when you keep your milk and butter on your windowsill because it stays fresher there than in the awful excuse for a fridge that your landlord has provided you with.

when it feels like the end of the world when your landlord increases your rent.

when you manage to stretch a pot of stew over five days, though you cannot face another stew dinner.

when you feel the financial aftermath for months of your first night out in ages.

when you wonder should you treat yourself to that half-price lipstick in a bargain bucket in your local chemist.

when you cannot even afford the bus fare to go shopping.

when friends do not understand that even ‘just get here and do not worry about money’ does not mean that you will be able to in anyway.

when your winter coat is also your summer coat.

when you ask the dentist to extract a painful tooth rather than fill it because the cost difference is enormous.

when you cannot go to a friends wedding because

a) you have nothing to wear and cannot afford an outfit
b) you cannot afford a day out like that anyway
c) you cannot afford a babysitter
d) you cannot afford a present for the happy couple


when you see a mother and child begging in the street and you wonder will you ever find yourself in that position.

when cost not quality is your priority.

when the €40 visit to the doctor means you decide the cough will clear up on its own soon.

when the cough gets so bad that when you do reluctantly go to the doctor and you think ‘not bloody likely’ when he says ‘come back in a couple of days if that doesn’t clear up’.

when the average cost of sending a child to secondary school is more than a thousand euro and it might as well be a million.

when you do not know whether to laugh or cry at the Government grant of €250 which is supposed to go someway to cover the more than a grand cost of going to secondary school.

when the thought of Christmas fills you with absolute dread and not seasonal cheer.

when you want to cry because your child’s Christmas list reflects your child knowledge that there isn’t much money about.

I’d be interested to hear what your additions to the being poor is list.

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7 comments:

Boliath said...

"when you want to cry because your child’s Christmas list reflects your child knowledge that there isn’t much money about."

That's a heartbreaker!

Teenage Kicks said...

when the thought of Christmas fills you with absolute dread and not seasonal cheer.

eh hem....mum...

Emma in Canada said...

Isn't it something that all these rich countries have such incredible child poverty. We're 1 in 6 here in Canada and it is a crying shame really.
I'd add that being poor is not being able to put your kids into the sports they'd love to play because there is no money for registration fees, uniforms and equipment, etc...

Thank God I don't have to pay to go to the doctor's though. We'd all be under strict orders not to get sick!

KnackeredKaz said...

I'm constantly amazed at the level of poverty which still exists in Ireland, Celtic Tiger how are ya?

I once spoke with the principal of a Dublin primary school who said they started up a club in the morning times before school, not so much as an educational exercise, but because they found the children were actually hungry and needed breakfast. The thought of tiny kids going to school with empty bellies really upset me, particularly as I spend half my time moaning that I have too much to eat. (See my Weight Watchers posts!)

When I was a child there was a period of unemployment and hardship in our house during the 80s, which was a difficult time particularly for my parents with four kids. But luckily we never experienced real poverty and there was always a solid roof over our heads and a hot meal on the table.

When I was young, ever year between September and Christmas my parents stopped going out or spending any money on themselves or entertainment (my mother never even bought herself a pair of tights during those months) so that there would be presents at Christmas time. It's funny how we never noticed then, but we're forever grateful now.

Kelly Services recruitment agency in The Square is doing a toy appeal for the ISPCC up until December 19 and any donations would be gratefully received (in fact I'm going over tomorrow afternoon to make my donation!).

Anonymous said...

Being poor is also when you are forced to choose between paying the water/gas/electric bill or eating.

William said...

being poor means getting fat because fatty foods are cheaper than healty food.

KT said...

"when you want to cry because your child’s Christmas list reflects your child knowledge that there isn’t much money about."

that one gets me the most I think because it suggests a humanity in a child that is so hard to find these days...