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Physical isolation is an incubator for anxiety and depression and people in poverty are particularly hard-pressed

April 3, 2020 5:00 PM

welfare family

'We are in unprecedented times, all that we have previously felt to be 'normal' has changed.

'COVID-19, the global pandemic, has resulted so far in fundamental changes to the way that we live our lives. Now more than ever, we need to remind ourselves of the values we hold dear; of compassion and justice'. Those experiencing extreme poverty are particularly hard-pressed, say the aplecollective

However Covid-19 may be impacting upon you, just imagine living in extreme poverty with even less money to cope with shortages and price gouging, coping with isolation and being in cramped in closer quarters that lack access to nature, the internet, and other forms of entertainment, or to be separated with children in the care system.

It is fundamental that those who are already experiencing poverty, who are already struggling against a tide of unsympathetic welfare reforms, poverty premiums and zero hour contracts are not left self-isolating with zero support. The government have announced some support for people struggling but significantly more needs to be done and fast.

Digital exclusion has now stranded some people without access to online information about public health, food banks, mutual aid groups, and to financial information, such as arrangements for replacing free school meals, the government's emergency package with energy suppliers and how this works for people who use pay-as-you-go meters and previously paid in person. With rapidly changing information, many people struggle to understand what is meant by self-isolation and what safe practices are currently recommended.

Physical isolation is an incubator for anxiety and depression. It damages mental well-being. While mental health issues can affect people in all walks of life, people in poverty are particularly hard-pressed because their conditions of isolation are often in bad housing including temporary hostels. These same conditions can also trigger anger, tension and conflict. Although there are now government recommendations on Covid-19 and mental health, poverty can be an obstacle to following them. What new initiatives can be taken to support emotional well-being throughout this crisis says ATD Fourth World?

While some primary schools are managing to maintain communications with all pupils and among parents to maintain children's friendships in addition to supporting learning, ATD Fourth World report that there are some families whose children are now completely cut off from school friends. It can also be very challenging for parents to sift through warnings in order to understand how they might safely let their children play outdoors when there is no park nearby or whether it's better to keep everyone anxiously shut indoors for the duration.

"Children in the 'care' of the state will be even more cut off from their birth families. The closure of contact centres and lack of supervising staff has led to the suspension of all face-to-face supervised contact.

Finally, people living in extreme poverty, destitution and without immigration status are unable to socially isolate, many cannot access health care and other support, and they are prevented from helping to make the population as safe as possible during this time of global crisis. Migrant people who are in the legal system cannot keep physically safe on their allowances because those allowances are not enough for them to eat healthily or buy appropriate cleaning materials. Many are living in accommodation where it is impossible for them to socially isolate."

NHS Covid19

Sources and extracts taken from:

@aplecollective contact@aplecollective.com

ATD Fourth World atd@atd-uk.org