Living through A Year Like No Other
A year like no other charts the ups and downs of family life on a low income during the unprecedented times of Covid 19. We (participants and researchers from the Covid Realities research project) wrote the book to show how hard life was and the change we need to see.
As a participant of the Covid Realities research project, this book is extremely important to me and all the others involved in its creation. I feel it is also important for a wider social understanding of life for some of the poorest in our country. I am a 38-year-old disabled wife and mother to four sons. We became reliant on universal credit when my husband lost his job due to Covid 19. The pandemic was beyond difficult. We juggled the children being home, the lack of food and support, all while falling into huge debt while waiting nine weeks to receive a decision and payment from universal credit.
This book delves into the challenges, fears, struggles, worries and even the hopes we have collectively to attain a better, fairer future, and to end poverty.
The Covid Realities research project ran for over two years remotely, with parents and carers on a low income from across the UK meeting up over zoom to work together and develop recommendations for change. We also completed online diaries about what life was like, and some of us spoke to the media and politicians about our experiences. We made online zines (DIY magazines), took part in writing workshops, and did much, much more.
Covid Realities became a very special place for me. It was a safe place to unload my problems with no judgement, and always offered unwavering support.
The book A year like no other was put together by researchers on the project, who made sure that the diary entries from participants like me and the zine pages featured across the book. Many of us also had the opportunity to write short sections, which introduce each chapter. All this gives the book a very raw and real look into the lives and struggles of those living in poverty, especially during the life-changing times of the pandemic. What this book shows is the harm caused by poverty, which affects not only parents but children and the wider family as a whole.
My hope is that this book encourages a change in the way people view benefit claimants and low-income families reliant on social security support. All too often, we are either brushed under the carpet and forgotten, or portrayed and judged as lazy and living the life of luxury. This book shows the truth of the life we live, day in, day out. The torment of making decisions no parent or carer should have to make in this day and age.
This book shows why things can and must be different. Please read it, share it, and join us in calling for change.
A year like no other is now available from Policy Press. To receive a 30 per cent discount before the end of November, enter the code POAYLNO.
Covid Realities was a collaboration between the Universities of York and Birmingham, and CPAG. The project was funded by the Nuffield Foundation but the views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of the Foundation. See covidrealities.org.