August 01, 2020
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Kind HuffPost UK Readers Flood Family Battling Poverty With Offers Of Support
A woman who described the brutal inequality of home-schooling during the Coronavirus pandemic while battling poverty was reduced to tears as kindhearted HuffPost UK readers flooded her with offers of support.
Terri-Anne Hamer, a single mum-of-three who lives in Leeds, spoke to HuffPost UK about the reality of coping with life during lockdown and the struggles of feeding and educating her children while being plunged into greater poverty.
The 34-year-old, who is in the final year of a university degree, described daily hurdles including having her family’s internet cut off, using food banks to make sure her children didn’t go without, and working on her dissertation until 3am after her kids had gone to bed.
Despite the hardships she has faced, Terri-Anne told HuffPost UK she has strived to do her best during lockdown by supporting her children with their schoolwork and learning, making sure they are fed well and carrying out activities such as baking, arts and crafts and organising scavenger hunts.
Terri-Anne – mum to Kaemon, 10, Amayah, six, and AJ, four – admitted it hadn’t been easy. “I run on survival mode,” she said. “I know what needs to be done and I just crack on with it. 
“I don’t think about it until the end of the day when I’m exhausted.”Since telling Terri-Anne’s story, HuffPost UK has been inundated with positive messages describing her as “an inspiration” and an “amazing” and “fantastic” mum. Many people have come forward with practical offers of help, wanting to give gifts to her children.
“I’m exhausted just reading that,” one HuffPost UK reader said of Terri-Anne’s story. “She is amazing! The children’s happiness shines out from their faces. What a lovely family.
“There should be more help for families in these situations. We all benefit from investing in the wellbeing of our children. Those children are going to go far – as is Mum.”
Another wrote: “Wonderful mum, brilliant kids – and sadly single parents are discriminated against time after time. Super raw piece.”
Another HuffPost UK reader said: “What a fantastic mum. Hats off to you. I don’t know how you managed to do any of that. 
“The Universal Credit system is horrible and I hope you can get some help to relieve some of the financial pressure.
“Keep going, you’re such a great role model of resilience and determination. Your kids will one day understand the sacrifices you have made.”
One woman said: “I’m in awe of the woman in this article, Terri-Anne. Raising three kids alone; homeschooling them all during lockdown whilst in the final year of a degree; navigating poverty and parenthood as best she can. What a heroine.”
Another said: “Counting my blessing having read this article about another mum-of-three who lives less than two miles from me and shares her lockdown experience.”
Terri-Anne told HuffPost UK about some of the trials and tribulations she has faced during lockdown – such as worrying about how to feed her children and having to find money for extra costs such as printer cartridges, which proved so expensive she instead took photos of her son’s work and emailed them to the school.
Talking about her children’s return to school in September, Terri-Anne admitted she was dreading having to afford a uniform for her youngest son, as well as worrying about how to make daughter Amayah’s birthday in September special.I came from nothing – why does anyone want to help me. I am just so overwhelmed that people who don’t even know me or my children would want to be so kind to us.When HuffPost UK told Terri-Anne about the generosity of readers and some of the positive messages people had given her, she burst into tears and had to be hugged by her daughter.
“I came from nothing – why does anyone want to help me?” she said. “I am sitting here in tears and am just so overwhelmed that people who don’t even know me or my children would want to be so kind to us.”Terri-Anne was contacted by one woman who had read her story and wanted to help out by buying a cartridge for her printer. “It was such a kind gesture and she asked me to take a photo of the printer and send it to her so she would know what cartridge to buy.
“I sent her the photo and she replied: ‘No, no, that’s no good.’ I thought I’d done something wrong but she told me the printer we had needed cartridges which were too expensive so she was going to buy me a new printer with a cartridge instead.
“I told her, no, no, a cartridge is more than enough. But she insisted and bought us a new printer with a cartridge.”
One woman got in touch with Terri-Anne and told her she wanted to help out with buying her children’s school uniforms.
Terri-Anne has now bought the new uniforms for her children and has sent photos of them wearing them to the kind woman whose generosity made it possible.“It is absolutely amazing how kind people are and it really restores your faith in humanity,” Terri-Anne said.I did not want people to think I was a scrounger or to think that’s why I had agreed to share my story for the article. I did it because I wanted to raise awareness.“The lady who bought us the printer also sent the children some colouring stuff and bought a doll for my daughter’s birthday.
“At first, I said no to the kind offers as I did not want people to think I was a scrounger or to think that’s why I had agreed to share my story for the article.  
“I did it because I wanted to raise awareness. Ever since I started uni, it has been one battle after another as the systems do not work with each other.
“The government tells people to better themselves then makes it physically impossible to do so. Universal Credit is supposed to make it pay to go to work, but I was worse off because of childcare.
“I felt I had been judged for so long and wanted people to know the full picture of what it is like when you are struggling and trying to do your best – and to show them that things like Universal Credit do not do what they set out to do.
“I wanted to show people that you can come from nothing and still make something of your life despite the knocks.”Faiza Afzal-Raza from Lancashire was moved so much by Terri-Anne’s story, she got in touch with HuffPost UK wanting to buy vouchers as a gift for the family.
“The story was written beautifully and sympathetically and I actually had a tear in my eye reading it as you could feel Terri-Anne’s plight,” she said. 
“Parenting young children is stressful enough, let alone with having to adjust to a new normal of virtual classrooms, worrying about feeding the kids and having no wi-fi during lockdown.
“It’s been difficult for all parents to keep their children entertained, but adding financial worries, a lack of proper technology for online learning and logistical challenges like grocery shopping, all while studying for a degree, is unimaginable.
“I have had to homeschool my two children while working three days a week from home. However, they’ve been lucky enough to have iPads and tablets and good, reliable wi-fi plus Netflix when they are bored.
“When I read about Terri-Anne’s struggles, especially about her taking pictures of her kids’ homework on her phone and uploading it to the school site and constantly relying on food banks to feed her three youngsters, I found it really heartbreaking.
“But despite the everyday struggles she faced, Terri-Anne put on a brave face and found ways to entertain her beautiful children and never gave up. 
“She is a fantastic role model and I bet her children are as proud of her as she is of them.
“I am buying some vouchers so she can get her daughter something for her birthday as I know Terri-Anne was worried about how she would afford to celebrate her special day.”Parenting young children is stressful enough, let alone with having to adjust to a new normal of virtual classrooms, worrying about feeding the kids and having no wi-fi during lockdown.Faiza Afzal-RazaOne man contacted HuffPost UK thanking us for “shedding light on the difficult realities of many and helping to change perceptions” and said he wanted to send the family a gift.
He said: “I was moved by how hard Terri-Anne is working to support her family and having to overcome so many barriers.”
One woman who said she had “never reached out to offer help in this way before” but felt compelled to after reading Terri-Anne’s story. She said: “She is a young woman who against the odds is doing a great Job with her children and her own education. I’d like to help in some small way.”
And it’s not just people from this country who have been touched by Terri-Anne’s determination through hardship.
One HuffPost UK reader who lives in the south of France with her family said the article “touched a nerve” as “my mum was a single mum and struggled but we had family support”.
She bought some vouchers for the family and said: “Terri-Anne is working so hard and deserves a little break from her worries. Everyone needs something to look forward to.”
One man from New York told HuffPost UK that reading Terri-Anne’s story “really bothered” him and he wanted to make an anonymous donation to help her. 
“I don’t know much about UK politics and economics as I am a New Yorker,” he said. “Weirdly, it was the parts about the printer cartridge and the upcoming child’s birthday that troubled me the most. 
“I guess I think of food and housing as societal obligations, but the idea that a child can’t do his school work because of a lack of toner is awful.”
Terri-Anne says she feels lost for words at the incredible kind gestures. “I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who read the story and those who have sent such lovely positive messages and offers of help.
“I will now be able to give my daughter a special birthday. She wants to go to Betty’s Tearoom in Harrogate and have what she describes as ‘posh lady sandwiches’ and she also wants a tea party with Friends with a mermaid birthday cake and a bouncy castle.
“I am just overcome by how kind people can be and want to thank them so very much.”Victoria Benson, chief executive of Gingerbread, the charity that supports single parent families, told HuffPost UK: “Terri-Anne’s story will be all too familiar to so many single parents across the country who have been left behind due to the coronavirus pandemic.Children should not be forced to live in poverty and single parent families shouldn’t have to rely on the kindness of strangers.Victoria Benson, chief executive of Gingerbread, the charity that supports single parent families“We know that single parents have been hit hardest and many have been pushed deeper into poverty by a lack of support from the government during these difficult months.  
“Terri-Anne’s story has shone a light on the struggles that affect her and so many others. All too often the voices of single parents aren’t heard.
“The government needs to listen up, pay attention and ensure that single parent families aren’t further disadvantaged by the pandemic.
“Children should not be forced to live in poverty and single parent families shouldn’t have to rely on the kindness of strangers.”Related... No Cash, No Wi-Fi, No Help: One Mum's Story Reveals Sheer Inequality Of Home-Schooling This Is How Coronavirus Is Affecting Single-Parent Families This Town Piloted Universal Credit 7 Years Ago. Here's The Grim Reality Of What Happened Since.
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