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I’ll tell you what poverty looks like

Readers' letters | Published:

I hope many people read

Now aged 92, an invalid living alone these past 10 years. I was the second of three children born into a poor family living in a country village in another county. My father had been a casualty at The Battle of the Somme 1916 and taken prisoner. Still suffering afterwards from the effect of shrapnel to his head, he stood little chance of worthwhile employment afterwards and had to be content as a railway porter with a take-home pay hardly sufficient for his growing family.

He died in 1934 leaving my mother with a widow’s pension and her three children, then aged nine, seven (myself) and three. There was no such thing as social benefits in those days, whether deserving or otherwise, and no food banks.

Obliged through circumstances to earn my keep and leave school at 14, life was hard, as you can imagine.

TV programmes have shown some families on benefits; puffing away, boozing, and with their hands out food banks and lounging about at home looking at large screen TVs.

I met my future wife in 1950, like myself from a working class family. We didn’t have children immediately in order to qualify for a council house. Instead we opted for a mortgage on a small terraced house by Barking, instead of enjoying luxuries we couldn’t afford. Yes we had our children spaced over nine years when we felt we could afford to do so.

I worked hard, gained promotion and only cleared paying my mortgage when aged 65 and started to relax. We gave our children the opportunity to extend their education and they in turn, rewarded us with gaining degrees in their chosen professions.

My dear wife became an invalid at the turn of the century and sadly died 10 years ago. Since when I have been fortunate in having my two daughters living locally and despite their own family responsibilities and busy lifestyles, never let a day pass without either visiting or by telephone, to make sure I’m OK.

I have had numerous surgical operations but borrowed or scrounged from no-one. I do not have computers, use websites or email or suchlike, not even a mobile phone, and my driving licence was taken from me three years ago on medical grounds.

But I have a bungalow, the sound of birds and my memories of when I was younger and fitter, leading walks for the local Phoenix Club and National Trust. Nowadays I am totally dependent on invalid aids to make one step forward.

Name and address supplied

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