14th April 2020

‘Don’t let anyone tell you you’re weak because you are a woman’

My name is Tedy and I live in Liverpool. I am a mother to my very young son which means my days very long, my whole 24 hours are filled! After we wake I feed my son and we brush our teeth, we shower and get dressed. Normally we’d go to the park but now we can’t go, like everyone else we must stay in the house to stay safe. I am so worried about my son getting the virus. Children touch everything and that’s not safe right now. When I go outside I am aware of what I am touching and what I need to do to be safe, but kids can’t do this. They want to touch everything! Even if, just for one minute, you’re not concentrating they could touch something with the virus on.

Me and the girls in my house take it in turns to go shopping, we used to go all together but now one of us goes whilst the others stay with the children. When that person comes back from the shop, the next person goes until we have all been for our week’s worth of food. Because we always did our food shopping together people were used to seeing us together. Now they ask: ’where are your friends because they’re always with you normally!’. It’s a surprise to them that we’re shopping alone. Although we didn’t know each other when we first moved in to our house (because our accommodation is provided by the Home Office) we are all used to each other now as we’ve lived together for 1 year. In fact, we are like a family. When people have visited our house in the past they have said that we are a ‘positive house’ which we are trying to keep up during this virus.

Before the virus I’d go shopping with my son but I have had to change how I shop. Because I am so scared of my son getting the virus I leave him in the house with my friends when I go to do my shop. When I leave the house I have to sneak out so that my son doesn’t see me leaving, if he sees me he’ll rush towards me and cry which makes it very difficult to leave. As long as I can get out without him seeing he’s okay with the other children and will play till I come back. All the kids in our house are the same, we have to play with them make sure they can’t see their mum’s leave when they go to do their food shop! When the virus first started and people were stockpiling it was so hard to find what we needed from the shops, especially nappies. Now it’s changing a bit, we can normally find what need but we still have to go the shop at 7am to make sure we can get them.

The streets are so quiet at the moment when I go out. I get very scared when I go outside. When I was in the queue for the food shop the other day there was a man who was shouting and screaming. He made me feel scared because you just don’t know what he’s going to do. That day I had arrived at the shop before it was open but because of what happened with that man I won’t do that next week. Instead, I will wait till the shop is open so there are more people around. This will be difficult because the children will be awake by then but it will make me feel safer so I must do it.

Claiming asylum is always hard, but during this time it is especially hard. Because we have claimed asylum we are not allowed to work and we rely on £5 per day that the Home Office gives us because otherwise we would be destitute. Our money is limited so you have to think really really carefully about what you will buy, especially when you have young children. Every week we have to think what we will need for the next seven days and no further because it is not possible to think further. You have to think really carefully what you will buy and what you will do with your money because you must pay for all your food, nappies, clothes and maybe a bus ticket with the money. For example, you cannot buy nappies for one month because you only get enough money to last a week. I think this makes us feel more anxious and depressed than we already are because you have to choose and prioritise what you need. There aren’t many choices.

Although we are all experiencing the virus I think everyone’s situations are different. Some people are struggling with how they are going to feed their themselves and their families. Some people are suffering from anxiety, even if they don’t know that they are. Some people are living at home with an abusive partner and they don’t know what to do and where to go.

We all hope that this will end soon, but the most important thing that we have learned about this virus is that the most valuable things we have are our lives. But, what can we do to keep living? The only thing we can do is to believe, stay positive, and keep trying to live our lives in the best way we can.

‘The one who surrenders never wins, while the winner is never surrendered’