‘How can kids func­tion prop­erly at school when they are hun­gry?’

The Herald on Sunday - - NEWS FOCUS -

MOTHER-OF-FOUR Gil­lian McCormick says there are times when the chal­lenges her fam­ily face hit her so hard that she can’t help but break down and sob.

“I spent the whole of yes­ter­day in tears, it was hor­rific,” she ad­mits.

“My daugh­ter is go­ing through tests for autism. My son, Mikey, has Down’s Syn­drome, he’s in a wheel­chair and can’t talk. It’s the most ex­haust­ing thing you can imag­ine.

“They said ‘You can’t earn £100 a week and keep your Carer’s Al­lowance’, so they took it away. It was money that helped, now it’s gone.”

Gil­lian, 32, who lives in Whiteinch, man­ages meals and other ex­penses us­ing the £80 bud­get the fam­ily has left once the main bills have been paid. It’s bru­tal, she says, but she knows there are oth­ers worse off among the 100 peo­ple who visit the Glas­gow South East Food­bank where she vol­un­teers and where hus­band Ryan, also 32, works full-time.

At home she feels the pres­sure that comes with try­ing to clothe and equip Han­nah, 15, Mikey 14, Grace, 10, and six-year-old Bruce for school.

“There are so many ex­penses that add up,” she says. “Things like home eco­nomics classes, which par­ents now have to pay for.

“Ev­ery last Fri­day of the month it’s ‘dress­down’ day. The kids take £1 each for char­ity, which starts to add up when you have a cou­ple of kids.”

Gil­lian finds about £12 a week to cover out­ings for Mikey at school and with a sup­port char­ity, and is try­ing to help Han­nah achieve her Duke of Ed­in­burgh badge goals, in­clud­ing buy­ing wa­ter­proof jack­ets, camp­ing gear and boots.

“You don’t want them to miss out on things,” she adds. “That just leads to chil­dren feel­ing iso­lated and left out. How can they con­cen­trate in class when they’re wor­ry­ing about what the other pupils are say­ing? Bul­ly­ing over poverty is wide­spread in schools.

“Kids know when things at home aren’t quite right. They’ll no­tice if mum’s maybe not eat­ing very much or dad’s train­ers have holes in them.

“And how on earth can kids func­tion prop­erly at school when they are hun­gry?”

Gil­lian McCormick man­ages meals and other ex­penses us­ing the £80 bud­get the fam­ily has left once the main bills have been paid. She also has to find money for her chil­dren’s home eco­nomics classes, school out­ings and char­ity dress-down days

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