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Food Banks: Single Mother-Of-Three On Food Parcels At Christmas

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CHILD BOX
Laura has not bought her children any Christmas presents (File Photo, posed by model) | Alamy

Laura, 25, lives in run-down part of Salisbury with her three children, age three months, two and four. She was forced to leave an abusive relationship, and move several times in the past year.

The family survive on benefits and help from Laura's family. She is taking parenting courses at the local children's centre and hopes to eventually train as a family caseworker when her children all go to school.

She receives a food box and a Christmas hamper from the Trussell Trust in December, after spending £70 on her son's school uniform for January.

I haven't bought them any presents myself for Christmas. I would have liked to prioritise that, but they've got one each, which my mum has actually paid for.

Last year, they didn't have anything from me. They have a large family and will get presents, but it makes you feel bad.

I know they won't necessarily realise, but you know that nothing's come from you, when they open it on Christmas Day.

I got so angry and snapped at my sister who was talking on and on about what she had got her kids for Christmas, and I got quite emotional about it. I can't buy them anything.

I'm sure my kids notice the stress, even if they don't understand. But the worries usually come in the evenings when I'm lying awake in bed, that's you start to really think about things.

I make sure they have everything they need to eat first, I don't think of myself, sometimes I just have a chocolate bar maybe.

I spend absolutely nothing on myself. I get clothes for Christmas and birthday from other people. That's it. I can't remember the last time I bought something for myself.

My grandparents saw how my shoes were all torn and split at the front and got me a new pair. The clothes I have now are the maternity clothes I bought four years ago.

My dad used what he saved up for his tax payment to help me buy a new car when mine broke.

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When I left my husband, my brother took a loan out for me but I haven't been able to pay him back. I really feel like I'm letting all of them down.

My cousin, who was only 16 at the time, paid the deposit for me on the house, and that was the money she was saving up for uni next year.

They have helped me so much. I sit and think how much I owe and I feel terrible, they are going without in order to help me.

Shopping used to be over £100 a week for three children, although thankfully my middle one is out of nappies now. But food prices have gone up so much. Other things have had to give, I got in trouble with bills, like heating and electricity.

I keep the heating off as much as I can, but it takes a lot to keep the house warm. But the baby, Joe, has had bronchitis and the other two have had nasty colds, so we have to put the heating back on.

My brother has started to give us leftover fish from the food counter he works on. Before that, we used to live a lot on Iceland frozen food, chicken and chips. I don't want them to eat that rubbish food. They love their fruit and vegetables, which is good, but they are so expensive.

My older son Robert is four, he's starting school in January. That's been a big worry, affording the uniform, certain parts of it have to be the school's official uniform, with the logo on. It's so expensive, it's cost £70 for the logo stuff alone. And I still need to get his school bag, shoes, trainers.

I get no help with it at all. And at this time of year it's a nightmare. My mum helps me when she can, she bought my daughter, Sally, who is two-and-a-half, new clothes.

She grew out of her clothes so suddenly, her trousers and shirts don't fit.

I think Robert was affected more than anyone by us leaving my husband. Sally was only 18 months so she didn't really understand.

But he is quite switched on for a four-year-old. He says 'I liked our old house.' And he'll ask, 'When are we moving again?'.

He expects to be moving around all the time, it's very upsetting to hear him say that. If I leave him with my mum for too long, he expects to come back to a new house, because I sent the kids there every time I had to move. But they are happy children, considering what they have had to go through.

They are happier not to be around all the shouting and arguing. But even now, they can't stand hearing anyone shout, or loud noises.

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