Ilkeston mother skips meals to feed sons

A mother-of-two says she and her partner go without an evening meal once or twice a week to make sure there is enough food for their children.

Hayley Sanderson, aged 24 and from Ilkeston, says with rising costs and a limited income, food "is not the priority for our family".

Ms Sanderson said she always made sure her sons, aged seven months and four, had enough to eat.

Charity Save the Children said her story was "deeply alarming".

Describing a fridge containing just butter, ham and a bottle of ketchup, Ms Sanderson said: "It is quite normal at the moment. We just live by the day and buy the food as we need it.

"The children often ask if they can have a snack and it's quite upsetting when you know you've not got much to give them."

'Drastic measures'

Ms Sanderson had to cut her maternity leave short and return to her job at a nursing home when her youngest child was five-months-old after her partner's hours were reduced.

She also works extra hours for a small loans company to help make ends meet.

"My partner only works two days a week at the moment so that's why I'm doing two jobs.

"I don't know how we got into this position. My partner got his hours cut and he was out of work for a while.

"You get behind with bills and then it's a constant catch-up every month and food is not our main priority," she said.

In a survey of 2,000 mothers carried out by parenting website Netmums, it was found one-in-five parents regularly missed meals to make sure their children could eat.

Gareth Jenkins, head of child poverty at Save the Children, said: "No parent in this country should be skipping meals to feed their kids - it's deeply alarming that families are resorting to such drastic measures.

"The best way out of poverty for poor families is working and the best way to help poor families get into work is help with childcare. The government must prioritise action on both."

Ms Sanderson said: "When the kids are in bed, we have our tea. We do sometimes look at each other and say 'shall we save that for tomorrow for the kids' dinner or shall we eat it?'.

"I always make sure my kids have different meals every day. If we haven't got enough money for our tea, we just don't eat."

Asked what she would do with some extra cash each week, Ms Sanderson said: "I would love to do a Sunday dinner. It's really not an option at the moment, we just can't afford it."

She added even relatively small things such as haircuts for the children had to wait due to lack of money.

Alan Milburn, former Labour Health Secretary and now the government's independent reviewer on social mobility and child poverty, said in December: "There are 2.6m children in poverty in our country. That is nearly 1 in 5 of all children.

"If we take a narrower measure, those living in absolute poverty, 1.4m children are in poverty. Those figures should shock and shame us all."

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