Aida’s story

Aida’s story


Patrick Butler, from the Guardian, interviewed one of the families from the Barnet Lunch Kitchen. Here's Aida's story.

"A year ago, single mother Aida Voskian, 51, was suffering from depression brought on by suffocating personal debts: “You worried whether you could switch the heating on because you couldn’t afford the heating bill that month,” she says. Voskian, who works as a mealtime supervisor and part-time carer, said she always scraped the money together to feed her daughter Amelia, age nine. But making ends meet was touch and go, particularly during holiday periods, when free school meals were not available.

Life was about “survival” and there was no money for trips or treats. Her predicament, she felt, robbed her daughter of the freedoms enjoyed by many of her peers during holiday periods, and she experienced overwhelming guilt and shame: “It’s about not being able to do what you need to do for your child.”

Things changed after Voskian was referred to a scheme near her home in Barnet, north London, run by the Make Lunch charity. There, on weekdays during the summer holidays, she and Amelia would join other families for a hot meal. There were play activities for the children and a chance for parents to share problems. It took the pressure off. “It was a lifeline,” says Voskian, who has since become a volunteer with the scheme.

Make Lunch is one of a handful of charities, community groups and local authorities responding to what they see as a growing problem of “holiday hunger” experienced by children from families grappling with cost of living pressures: low wages, insecure work, benefit cuts and delays, and the running-down of community facilities through spending cuts.

So far in 2014, its volunteers have served over 8,000 meals to over 1,462 children in 38 kitchens, from Aberdeen to the Isle of Wight. It’s an achievement, acknowledges Rachel Warwick, a former teacher who founded the charity three years ago, but it represents only a tiny fraction of the 4m children who live in poverty in the UK."

Read the rest of the article at
Photo: C Sinbaldi from The Guardian